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No Shame In Pride: Speech from Pride Day

I gave this speech from the pulpit of St. Paul's Cathedral on Tremont Street on Saturday June 10th:

You might want to take a picture because I can usually be found protesting outside of the church.

The theme of today’s service is “lessons and carols for the struggle.” Earlier the activist organization I founded, QueerToday.com, participated in a coalition pride parade contingent we called “uniting our struggles.” The coalition included Women’s fightback network, Black Unity Pride, Somos Latinos, and Stonewall Warriors and the Boston Rosa Parks Coalition.

At QueerToday.com we believe it is important to both recognize the uniqueness of all our struggles as oppressed people and also to recognize their interconnectedness.

We believe in the power of protest as exhibited recently by the marchers for immigrant rights. And we believe in the power of solidarity.

While the right-wing enjoys calling the activists of QueerToday.com depraved, deranged and disgusting, the mainstream gay rights leaders enjoy calling us “divisive.” I believe that assimilation and shame are the catalysts of divisiveness. I believe that single issue focused organizations that fail to recognize the interconnectedness of our struggles are divisive.

Some members of the gay community believe that non-violent direct action in the spirit of Gandhi and countless other luminaries will jeopardize the mainstream image that they have so tirelessly worked to achieve.

Honey, the interracial gay sex I have with my boyfriend will never be considered mainstream! And thank god because being different is a beautiful and beneficial thing.

Gay pride can’t exist if it is overcome with shame. When Hillary Clinton panders to the political center, it is about shame. When the Human Rights Campaign endorses pro-war republicans over progressive politicians, it is about shame. When writers for the Advocate magazine call on pride parade participants to tone it down, cover up, and shut up – it is about shame. When Macy’s removes mannequins that look gay from their store displays, it is about shame. And when gay men whine about the prevalence of promiscuity and non-monogamy in our community, it is about shame.

Shame is homophobia is shame – and both are deadly. Sexual shame makes it more difficult to discuss HIV/AIDS and STD risk reduction and prevention. Shame makes it harder for transgendered folks to feel accepted and celebrated. Gay shame and assimilation make it harder for queers to come out about being in domestically violent situations. Shame is a bottomless Petri-dish in which homophobia, racism, and sexism can grow and flourish.

A polished red white and blue image has brought us some victories. Gay marriage is a victory for some and should be celebrated, but it cannot be viewed as the ultimate form of equality nor can the issue be allowed to usurp the importance of supporting the most marginalized folks in our community: those who are transgendered or genderqueer. Marriage must be seen as a transitional demand on the path to full queer liberation.

In the past few years the attempted suicide rates of LGBT youth have skyrocketed to 5 times that of their straight peers and queer youth non-profits continue to struggle to meet their financial goals. Yet the incredible resiliency and shameless pride that young queer people portray has never been more apparent than when many queer youth marched in the pouring rain during this year’s youth pride celebration.

On this pride day I call on you follow the example set by the LGBT youth of Boston and join QueerToday in our call for true queer pride and solidarity with the oppressed peoples of the world.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Right on Mark! Well said.