Content note: This post discusses the coronavirus pandemic as well as the cancellation of Pride 2020 and other events, and, more importantly, racism and the protests currently unfolding in the US following the death of yet another Black man at the hands of a police officer. Obviously, that’s kinda heavy, so please take care of yourselves first – you can’t pour from an empty (or debilitatingly traumatised) cup.
I’ve been lucky enough to go to a number of brilliant pride events. Even when they’ve been overwhelming, and a little lacking in the accessibility department, and thoroughly rained upon, I’ve been warmed through by a sense of community and safety that I rarely find outside of kink spaces and small pockets of the internet. Like a lot of people, I was really looking forward to Pride 2020.
Except, well, it’s 2020.
There’s a pandemic going on, just in case you had somehow not heard (and I’m so fucking jealous of you if you hadn’t). That, obviously, means that physical pride events are going to be difficult to organise in a safe and responsible way. I’ve been grieving the loss of a lot of opportunities and things I was excited about and any sense of normality, so pride events being cancelled is something I’m kinda already emotionally prepared for. Besides, it’s not physical events that I’m the most invested in (again, overwhelming and inaccessible) – it’s pride month.
Pride month is usually a lot of fun. It’s the month before my birthday, and everything in the shops is dipped in rainbows and other pride flags. The memes are usually impeccable. There are fruitful discussions about the LGBT+ rights movement, and less fruitful “discussions” with trolls (I can’t help it! They’re so easy to wind up!). Most pride months, there’s a hum in the air, like every LGBT+ person is vibrating with excitement at the prospect of painting flags onto their faces and getting wasted. Generally, the vibe is a positive, uplifting one.
I don’t know how or if we could achieve that vibe this year without the coronavirus involved, though, because there’s another reason that I’m writing this blog post: the protests in the United States.
I’m not equipped to talk about what’s going on. I’m not well-informed enough, in my own opinion, but more importantly than that: I’m white. As far as I’m concerned, that means my job is to boost the voices of Black people and other people of colour, but not to come to any grand conclusions on my own and then spout them from my white-person soapbox. I want to be helpful, but in this case, I’m pretty sure the most helpful thing to do would be to listen to Black people, spread the protest bail funds and other helpful information, and tell other white people to bloody well behave themselves.
A while ago, I wrote a blog post called Chicken Wings: A Clumsy Metaphor About Race. That post paradoxically discouraged white fragility and catered to it, by reminding white people that the people who call them out for racist behaviours are trying to help them be less racist. Even at the time, I didn’t love framing it in a way that fed the white egos reading it, but I was trying to be patient and gentle with y’all because I have enough privilege to take a softly-softly approach to anti-racism discussions.
I do not, however, have enough patience for said approach. I’m sick of watching my fellow white people defending cops, criticising the actions of protesters, sharing shit without double-checking its legitimacy or helpfulness… the list goes on. I’m sick of watching white people just… not… care about other human beings. I cannot begin to imagine how much more sick of it most POC are.
So, even though we could do a virtual Pride 2020 – should we? Should we be celebrating while other people are fighting for their rights and getting teargassed in response? Should we all have rainbow-y icons and hang out in group chats and listen to absolutely banging tunes while drinking on Zoom with some mates?
The answer is, of course, that I can’t answer that. Neither can people of colour, because (surprise surprise), they aren’t a monolith. They don’t have meetings about their official stances on various issues. Instead, they’re all individuals – but some of them are community organisers and activists, and I plan to find a few of those people to listen to as June unfolds. I honestly won’t mind if Pride 2020 sort of falls on its face, gets postponed or is entirely written off, because human rights are more important to me than getting to draw flags on my face. You know, obviously.
I don’t want to include just one masterpost of helpful resources in case I miss out something vital, so I implore you (especially if you’re white) to go and do some research about how best to help both the protesters currently operating in the US and the Black Lives Matter movement more broadly. Donate to things, physically turn up and help protesters where you safely can, and remember: wash your hands, don’t touch your face, get a burner phone and never, ever trust a cop.