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just ask, and we won't tell

"We are proud of our service and we are happy to share our lives with you. Just ask, and we'll tell!"




The militirization of Pride aside for the moment, I find something profoundly disturbing about this part of the description. The first sentence implies that the service of which we are proud includes sharing our lives with "you." As if it were somehow the duty of the queer community to share our lives as part of our "service" to straight people. To me, this seems absurd. I do not have to share my life with anyone, especially not as a service. If I choose to share my life with someone, it's because we have built a relationship of trust, and they have also shared their lives with me. The statement from Pride makes it seem like queer people are unproblematically content to share our secrets on command, to put our sexual lives on display for the consumption of the curious straight. While coming out can be a strong political act, that does not mean that we come out and share in service of straight people. We come out for ourselves and our community. Yes, we can also come out to help educate straight people, or other queers, but this is not a service provided. If it were, I don't think any of us are being reimbursed for this service, and so are we providing these services free of charge? Should I start charging straight people every time I come out to one? I should I do this labor wage-free?





The statement also makes it seem like outing ourselves is a simple process that no one has problems with. "Just ask, and we'll tell!" Who is this "we" that they are talking about? All queers? White queers? Male queers? Queers with cash? Queers with homes? Adult queers? Some intersection of all the above? Most likely. Which members of our community have the privilege to tell so easily? Which members of our community have the privilege to even tell at all? Some queers do not want to tell, whether it's because they're post-op and passing, or because it could mean losing their lives or jobs. The reasons for not outing ourselves are endless. Boston Pride should not forget that the closet not only still exists, but it is also a necessary reality for many queers, and not all of us want to come out just to serve straight people.





As for service, Boston Pride assumes that "we are proud of our service." Again, I pose the question, who is this "we" that Boston Pride keeps referring to? Not all of us work in service, and for those of us that do work is service, it is not necessarily in service of our oppressors. Like many other queers, I work for queers. My service is for the queer community. But not all of us are even able to be "proud of our service." It's easy to be proud if you're one of the "doctors, lawyers, teachers, leaders..." that Boston Pride lists, but what if you're a domestic worker? A sweatshop worker? An undocumented worker? A sex worker? All of the above? It is not always easy to be proud of our work when we are taught to feel shame for certain labor acts.





Lastly, I am curious about why Boston Pride insists on solely addressing straight people in their description of the event with a supposedly unified queer voice. The idea that Pride exists as a performance, a service, for the straight community and that "we," queers, are doing this for "you," straight people, is preposterous. Pride should be for queers to feel pride. Not for straights to stare at and be visually serviced.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here's a thought, have any of you who are disturbed with the Pride 2007 theme participated in the planning of PRIDE? Unless you haven't given of your services then I'd say its much easier to gripe and complain after the fact than to actually go through the planning process and then give of yourself, not only on that Saturday of Pride, but on the countless hours, days and months of planning.

Mark D. Snyder said...

I agree with this post so much it hurts.

Telling people they are not allowed to complain about anything unless they were involved in the planning process is absurd. I was not involved in planning the war in iraq but i can still complain about it. I was not involved in the planning process of the big dig but I can still complain about it. I was not involved in the planning process of implementing the charlie cards on the MBTA but I can still complain about it. In fact following that logic no one would ever be able to protest or complain about anything unless they were involved in the planning process - doesn't work.

Greg Brown said...

The logic absolutely does work.

If you complain about the Iraq War and vote for the people that opposed it, that gives you the right to complain. To complain about the Charlie cards and yet voice your concerns to the proper MBTA officials gives you the right to complain. To get involved with the Pride Committee, voice your ideas, have the majority disagree, gives you the right to complain.

It's about making a difference. Sitting on your tush and just spouting off is the easy and coward's way out.

How can you make a difference? Anonymous has a good point.

Mark D. Snyder said...

Ahh, you see but I do not sit on my tush. Nor do the thousands of other people who work two jobs and don't have time to join the pride committee.

Tom Lang said...

Greg Brown? My Greg Brown?

Greg, Mark Snyder is most certainly a worker/activist et al. You know this. Pride has for a long time been sort of stuck between a party and a political statement and when the two are part of its theme both suffer.

I agree with Mark on this one. We as a community need to tell Pride what it should be not the other way around. If the Caucus or MassEquality or KnowThyNeighbor for that matter had a message that they all thought we should by into and ask for our support implementing and we felt it important to criticize, then we all would (and have) voice our opinions.

Seriously, we really need to take a look at Pride and of couse thank all of those who give so much time to it, however, we are all as LGBT in a very dangerous time here. We all need to take Pride more seriously and bring the Pride committee into the discussion with the other LGBT groups.

Tom Lang said...

But here is an example regarding Pride. Last year, as you probably know, I was asked to be a lead speaker at the Political Forum. Eric Georgi was behind that with one of the Pride Memebers. The topic was going to be personal activism. They wanted me to confront the powers that be in the LGBT community, Arline, Barrios, Solomon etc. I agreed and prepared my schedule and presentation. As the Forum approached, I could not get through to any of the people responsible for its planning. Then I find out through checking with their website that "due to a scheduling conflict" the forum was cancelled. You mean to tell me the forum could not have found any other venue? I can tell you, through multiple emails and phone messages I still have not been given the courtesy of an explanation to this date.

And if you want a story from someone who had an even worse Pride experience talk to Sam Abate. He volunteered and got everyone to buy into a group of banners that would be spread out throughout the parade route. These banners would move with the marchers and have in their text LGBT historical heroes/role models. This was right in the middle of all that controversy that when the press would only photograph our most extreme element and use the pics against us politically. Sam was completely upset by what he was seeing in the gay community at the time--that we were shaming the drag queens and the leather guys etc. So Sam came up with the ingenious idea of using banners so if the press did focus on a "non-mainstream "acceptable" gay image then the press would have to photograph the names of hostoricla gay figures like Stein or da Vinci or Turing etc. Well, Sam worked for months on this and everyone agreed but then the idea was nixed because some "sponsor" didn't like it and was going to pull its $10,000 contribution.

Pride needs to answer to us the LGBT community more than to just itself. Times have changed in our community and there are alot more minds, concerns and groups at the table today--thank God.

greg brown said...

I'll not comment again. The responses to this post prove my point.

Arrogance and cynicism get noone anywhere. Many people have more than one job but find a way to get involved often to their own detriment. People get involved and their views go unresponded to. Everyone has a story but complaining and belittling get noone anywhere and won't get the GLBT anywhere on 1/2/07. Diplomacy will but I'm in the minority in my thoughts even though I too will be at the State House on Tuesday quietly voicing my opposition to the radical right.

It seems to me that there is more than philosophical opposition to Pride here.

Mark D. Snyder said...

Greg,
You have confused me. I do not like this year's pride theme, and I post my thoughts about it on the blog (that is what blogs are for afterall), and you criticize me/us for not being involved in the planning of pride before I criticized it (which still makes no sense) and now you are saying that "there is more than philisophical opposition to pride" on this blog. I have no idea what that means. I, for one, support the idea of PRIDE, true PRIDE, 100%. And I love celebrating pride in Boston. Unfortunately I do not think smothering ourselves in red, white, and blue, proclaiming our patriotism and service to others, and keeping the drag queens to a minimum is what pride means.
While you are "quietly" voicing your opposition to the right, they are loudly and forcefully taking over our country. Maybe you should be a little more loud, and a little more proud?
I'm not sure who you were referencing, but I am niether arrogant nor cynical. And I am happy to have a diplomatic conversation with anyone, at anytime.

Eric said...

Tom.
I recall telling you or Alex that the Suffolk GLBT liaison was responsible for the mis-scheduling of that Suffolk Law venue.
I was only volunteered to be responsible for lining up credible speakers to attend, including yourself, which I did.
I can't help but feel like you blog post suggests I did something wrong??

Eric Georgi said...

Tom.
I recall telling you or Alex that the Suffolk GLBT liaison was responsible for the mis-scheduling of that Suffolk Law venue.
I was only volunteered to be responsible for lining up credible speakers to attend, including yourself, which I did.
I can't help but feel like you blog post suggests I did something wrong??