June 10, 2015 at 10:13 am EST | by Mark Lee
Don’t look left during Pride, it’ll ruin the celebration
left, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

At least two things are almost certain to occur in the run-up to D.C.’s 40th annual LGBT Capital Pride celebration this weekend. You’re going to see one-too-many rainbow feather boas and the predictable dissident lament about how the whole gay rights thing has turned out will rear its head as if set on a timer.

The latter has already occurred.

Washington City Paper arts editor Christina Cauterucci last week penned a feature piece in the weekly publication’s annual Gay Issue harshly criticizing the “commercialization” of the local Pride celebration, titled “Swallow Your Pride.” If you can wade through the proffered “queer”-obsessed, lingo-laden and polemical condemnation of both the Saturday evening parade and Sunday daylong festival you will also find my voice offering more history and less histrionics. Be forewarned, however, that Cauterucci’s obsession with radical sloganeering and extremist terminology may require the assistance of an open browser to define trendy terms like “cismen” for the uninitiated.

On the any-moment verge of what is widely anticipated to be a Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, some still whine that the astonishingly accelerated advancement of civil equality for lesbians and gays hasn’t included our rejection of mainstream culture and the demise of capitalism.

This has been happening for the 20 years since the then-named “Lesbian and Gay Freedom Festival” first launched as a re-imagined high-profile downtown event on America’s Main Street in 1995.

I should know. I produced it.

I can attest to one simple reality as a result of that experience: change proves difficult, even for us. That’s something that continues to this day and is reflected in the anxiety-ridden adjustment for some to acceptance and assimilation. Despite these being achievements of local LGBT leadership and rank-and-file residents by both political and cultural measure.

D.C. is a poor choice of hometown to languish in disgruntlement about threading into the fabric of local life. The ethos of the city is accomplishment, not angst. As Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance president Richard Rosendall is fond of remarking, gay people in the District “like to get things done.” The resulting advancements in equality are the envy of any locale nationwide.

The radical-left disaffected and disappointed might be happier living amongst the brutal, bruising and bitter battles notably associated with the infamous internecine strife of places like San Francisco. Perhaps better to find solace on a goat farm in New England – or even a planet like Pluto, given that the chronic complaining sounds so strange.

The central premise of Cauterucci’s essay is that the Capital Pride committee should reject support from the business sector as a poisoning influence, a feeding from the trough of racism, misogyny and all else evil. She prefers something “rooted in the reclamation of historical oppression.” She also fails to mention that her own employer, the City Paper, has been a prominent sponsor of Capital Pride as recently as last year.

Ironically, Cauterucci touts as idealized model the alternative “Dyke March” that “eventually sputtered out” sometime in the last decade. She fondly recalls a speaker at the event imploring attendees “to wage the broadest, most diverse struggle against capitalism.” Attempts to revive the event this year didn’t pan out, but it might be that the coordinator will again bring a sign to the parade reading, as Cauterucci reports, “Happy Pride, Fuck Corporate Sponsorship.”

I am quoted offering the observation that “the biggest ally to the LGBT community at this point in its history is the business community, and they’re driving our progress. They’ve demonstrated that they want to be part of our community and they want our business. We should happily be willing to share the cost of producing our events with them.”

Ignoring LGBT distinction as a disproportionate demographic of entrepreneurs and both business creators and leadership is also to deny part of our own heritage.

My advice this weekend: Don’t look left during Pride, it’ll ruin the celebration.

left, gay news, Washington Blade

2004 Dyke March (Washington Blade file photo)

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

30 Comments
  • Was Bank of America an ally when it was foreclosing on the homes of poor LGBT people?

    • If it foreclosed on them because they were LGBT, please post the proof, and I’ll be happy to join an LGBT protest against B of A.

      If the foreclosures weren’t because they were LGBT, then it isn’t an LGBT issue, and you’re just trying to arrogantly commandeer the parade and the community for your personal cause.

      • When a far greater percentage of LGBT families live below the poverty line than non-LGBT families, you can bet it’s an LGBT issue. Get your head out of your ass.

        • No, ass, it isn’t. We grown-ups know the difference between correlation and causation. Ignoring it is a cutesy kind of “argument” that far-left ideologues trot out in a highly selective manner in a pathetic effort to force your personally preferred, non-LGBT, left-wing causes into the LGBT movement. Being LGBT also correlates with having a tough time asserting guns rights, so I look forward to you sanctimoniously screeching for gun rights and personally attacking every gun-control gay. Indeed, it is the same kind of hack “argument” that Netanyahu collaborators use to demand that we all take up the cause of oppressing Palestinians, so I also look forward to you sanctimoniously screeching at Palestinian-supporting gays. OMG you left-wing nuts are as stupid as you are arrogant. Get your far-left, non-LGBT pet issues out of the LGBT movement.

          P.S. Thank you for conceding what I already knew, that none of you mouthy asses even has a theory that B of A was targeting LGBT homeowners for disclosures based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

        • Actually I’ll bet a slightly higher percentage of urban loan officers are gay than is the population at large, if we go by advertising.

        • Considering what the Democrats did to the black middle class, we just might be next.

  • This is about as basic-gay as it gets. Come to terms with you status as a privileged white cis man first before you go about lecturing others how to celebrate pride… which by the way has a pretty radical heritage. Look it up!

  • This
    piece is so short-sighted, it should be renamed “Take the beads and be
    quiet, whipper snappers! Oh and get off my company’s lawn!”

    Does the author realize that the first gay pride was a riot against an
    oppressive establishment? I get that not everyone is called to be a
    radical activist, but please do not tell others that we shouldn’t be
    celebrating pride as a method for advocacy and change. We’re the ones
    who have been creating change from the start. Radicals threw the bricks
    at Stonewall. I’m glad that corp America is coming on board with
    equality but they’re new to this and the focus should remain on the
    people and our struggle. My rights were hard-fought and won by hard
    working activists, not a bank or a restaurant.

    • Your rights were won by a great many people from activists in the streets to lawyers in court to lobbyists in legislatures to insiders raising massive funds, plenty through corporate channels.

    • Actually the Fortune 500 were implementing anti-discrimination policies in their HR departments way before Democrats (or Republicans) started evolving to tap the gayTM. And a number of corporations have gay CEOs. Haven’t seen a gay president, Vice President or out gay party chairman or director (Mehlman wasn’t out when he chaired the GOP).

      • Government has always been the “Johnny come lately” in terms of opening doors to new ideas. Yes, companies embrace new ideas and trends for profit, but the marketplace is usually a fare and impartial place. Nevertheless, the Left likes to credit the government with spearheading change. Even smoking bans came about from one establishment to the other because the marketplace demanded it, virtually making the idea of state-wide bans redundant. But that didn’t stop the legislatures from slamming down their iron fists. Why do some people need the government’s stamp of approval to feel whole? I find it sad.

      • None of the Fortune 500 issued anything but non-binding, non-enforceable statements of their intent not to discriminate. The first job protections for LGBT employees came from neither business nor government but the labor unions.

  • This made me gag so much I nearly vomited on my keyboard. For real. So obtuse. So inane. So numb sculled. So very very very stupid.

    I am not anti-corporate. I think there is space for everyone in Pride. Exclusion is against the spirit of pride: even the exclusion of the gay friendly banks and brands.

    After all, the very first pride was sparked by the anger over the closing of a for-profit, mafia-owned, exploitive, price-gouging business! Pride has been corporate from the very beginning.

    BUT it has ALSO been radical and anti-establishment. The other extreme expressed in this brain-dead piece is way worse than the very legitimate complaint that Pride’s commercialization squeezes out other voices.

    We don’t exclude at Pride, and we CERTAINLY don’t exclude those radicals that made all of this happen. That made things like the Blade come into existence. That were at the forefront fighting for our rights when SOME (not all) of these businesses were too scared or too apathetic to come out for our rights until it was chic to do so.

    There have been inane delusional regurgitating of the same old anti-left line before — in fact it seems every LGBTQ publication gives them ink every year, along with the other side which seeks to reclaim Pride from it’s commercialization (which, again, I also don’t totally agree with), but this is the worst piece of flatulence I’ve seen yet committed to text on this subject.

  • “Be forewarned, however, that Cauterucci’s obsession with radical
    sloganeering and extremist terminology may require the assistance of an
    open browser to define trendy terms like “cismen” for the uninitiated.”

    Oh good lord, how precious. I guess that means I’ll have to look up leatherman and drag queen……Jeez – just how old are you?

    • Yes, we should always be inclusive of every group. Well I guess what you mean is as long as they are young and pretty because if you’re over 40 you’re to near death to be out in public. When you make a statement like that you demonstrate that you posts are not to be taken seriously, maybe you’re just trollin’.

  • Some gay people prefer assimilation, while others like the idea of joining tight knit identity circles. What I don’t get about the latter is they simultaneously thumb their noses at “bourgeois” America while desperately seeking its validation. As the writer above stated, gay marriage, perceived as the final gay rights victory, has created anxiety among this group and they are like the bees at the end of summer, stinging wildly before what they see as the demise of their group identity. Gays outside the identity bubble will celebrate our victories of assimilation (perhaps during suburban BBQs), while the “bees” continue to conjure up more “isms” to feed their insatiable hunger to be victims.

  • I have to agree with the majority of the article. The Pride Parade and Festival have always been funded through business contributions. At the start the funding came from local gay businesses, bars, bath houses, and surreptious donations from people who wanted to support but didn’t want to destroy their customer base. As the LGBT movement grew and we became more visible (partly because of the parades and festivals) larger companys and international corporations started to contribute as it helped to get their brand out in the public eye. And as we became increasingly visible people in the political sphere started to realize that here was a constituency that could bring votes. All because a few gay and lesbian BUSINESSES supported it in the beginning and it mushroomed into the current “parade”.

    I say “parade” because it has become a long walk on a hot Saturday afternoon. In the beginning the gays created (sound familiar? LOL) elaborate floats, expressions of creativity not found in any other parade. There were a few (very few) groups that just walked but they were in the minority, now they are the majority. I love the fact that so many groups want to show their unity with the LGBT community. Every major local politian knows that if they want the gay vote they need to be in the parade and so they get a banner and some supporters and talk a (long) walk on a Saturday afternoon. What happened to the GAY in gay? What happened to the PRIDE in pride? There are a few gay businesses that enter floats in the parade (and if you notice they are very successful busnesses.) and between them are are supporters, the “we have a banner and we’re willing to take a very long walk on an afternoon” groups. I know that we, as a community, have become more “mainstream” and have less of a need for the outrageous expression of our GAY PRIDE. But that doesn’t mean that we have to give it up entirely, it doesn’t mean we can’t have the outrageous creativity that we were once know for all over the city (and country).

    It would be nice (IMHO) if those groups that are supportive of the gay community partnered with businesses and individuals to produce the creative, colorful, noticable parades and floats of the past. Should a float be a requirement? Would be nice, but impractical.

    But then again, I’m just an old man who walked 10 miles to school uphill both ways in waist deep snow when it was so hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk. (Shakes fist) Now get off my lawn!!

    • Since businesses are so influential in forming trends, why don’t they originate another yearly party festival to celebrate being gay? Let’s face it, Gay Pride has run its course. It’s become another St. Patty’s Day. Instead of everyone being Irish, everyone is gay. I’m not discouraging straight people form supporting gay rights, but straight women who work at Target and their families waving from the back of a pickup truck does not make for interesting parade watching. I’d rather leave town for the weekend.

  • What’s actually interesting about Pride is how they are so totally dedicated to worshipping the incumbent political establishment. I’ve videotaped DC pride for a couple of years and posted it on YouTube. First are all the incumbent politicians – when I asked someone about this I was told they refuse to participate unless they get to be in front. Then are all the corporate (bar etc) floats with boys in speedos dancing that your describe as the target of leftovers. Then last are all the churches and other groups for Trans people and people of color. It’s amusing that Eric Holder is being honored. Just 11 years ago he was the Covington and Burling laywer tasked with spinning the fiasco where pregnant women and kids in DC had been fed high lead content water for years.

    If you take the names of the people pictured in the Pride Guide and look them up on opensecrets.com, I suspect you will find them to be much more politically monochromatic in their donations than the gay community generally.

  • Everything comes with a cost. Assimilation of middle- and upper-class gay white men into mainstream culture has come at the cost of leaving behind other, less conformist queers. Mark Lee can celebrate because he had an “in” almost from the beginning. His world isn’t for the rest of us, and his “community” isn’t mine.

  • “America’s leading gay news source” suggests in a column that “cismen” is a “trendy” term that the “uninitiated” will have to look up? If that’s not ironic proof of older white cismale privilege I don’t know what is.

  • I am a life long socialist, a union member and an activist on police accountability but I have to say I largely agree with Mark. It is a glorious thing that the MPD marches in Pride. The employees of Lockheed Martin (most of whom are good union members) belong there too.

    Wells Fargo might be more problematic, but NJNP missed the mark. They never once raised a criticism of Wells Fargo very real unethical practices towards tens of thousands of their customers. These folks were too ordinary for NJNP. They needed to find some esoteric connection — indirectly related to Wells Fargo. That way their effort stays in the hands of privileged intellectuals rather than become a real mass movement of ordinary people and maybe a movement outside their control.

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