Every year, Pride has become a kind of family reunion for me. Like thousands of queer-identified people in Portland-Vancouver area, this is a special day to celebrate. But I have also had a very mixed feeling about the Pride events every year for a long time. We do not need a big corporation’s “acceptance” to have a strong community that takes care of its own people. As much as I salute businesses large and small that pioneered in creating a LGBT-friendly (other letters were never brought up back then) workplace long before Oregon Equality Act became law, and that Portland area is home to some of the largest and best-known companies that are highly rated by the Human Rights Campaign as the best workplaces, I find troubling the co-opting of the queer communities and so-called LGBT identities for marketing purposes — to market anything from shoes to cruise ship package to militarism.
I do not identify as a queer person so that I can fit into some kind of pre-packaged and commercialized cultural and political identity that I spend money to participate in.
As long as the struggle for queer human rights is tied strictly to profitability, only the richer and the better educated (which requires also to be richer) can secure their rights. Politicians, even gay-friendly or even openly gay ones themselves, are routinely bought and paid for by special interest groups and PACs — including many of the LGBTQ-based PACs who often act as a de facto organ of the Democratic Party to support Democratic candidates without ever questioning the Obama administration‘s records on human rights at home and abroad.
Occupy The Pride Portland’s message is summed up to four simple words: Money OUT of Pride.
We do not need to pay money and buy things to feel proud.
We repeat: Money OUT of Pride!