Today, I attended my very first Pride festival in San Francisco. And it was an experience… to say the least.
I’m also going to begin this by saying that though I had some preconceived notions of Pride through my friends, I did not read any articles about Pride before writing this in order to really evaluate my own feelings and opinions.. I’m going to read them after I write down my own thoughts, though, and add on. I’m sure I won’t be as articulate.
Initially, it was pretty fun – simply watching the Parade and seeing my friends. Though, the Parade itself wasn’t even that exciting… and I felt like I could easily count the people of color marching in the parade – much less trans* people of color and trans* womxn of color. Not to mention the number of bindis, sombreros, and belly-dancing skirts I saw on yt folks! Fuck that shit.
Throughout the entire festival/parade, that was easily what I felt the most. I felt out of place in that sea of whiteness. There were no folks that looked like me, there were no folks that could relate to my experience, and there was definitely no homage to the trans* womxn of color that helped make Pride a tradition.
Further, the misogyny and trans* misogyny at Pride was so. real. Walking down Market St with my sister and our friend, we got stopped on numerous occasions, we were cat called, etc etc and so on and so forth. At one point, our friend was randomly grabbed by some guy and later, some man randomly came up to me and began massaging my shoulders. Not a sexual act, per se, but it doesn’t need to be. Why was this white man so entitled to my body? Without even asking me? How can we preach consent in any circumstance if we cannot even respect another humxn being’s body enough to ASK to touch them?
Even worse – at one point, I was sitting on the grass near the main stage in the Civic Center with some friends and some friends of friends. There, there was a group of white girls (nothing new, lol) and two of them were obviously incredibly intoxicated. They were taking off each other’s tops and heavily making out — I’m talking horizontal on the ground. Vaginas were showing in their high waisted shorts.
Okay, so what, whatever.
Until a man in front of us begins to film these girls without their consent.
I mean, what the fuck? The girls’ other friend began yelling, standing in front of the iPhone, threatened to break his phone. When that wasn’t working, eventually my friend and I joined the struggle. I saw the man still attempting to film and trying to be sneaky about it, so I straight put my foot in front of his camera and held it there. He glared, he refused to listen to my friend explain why filming without consent isn’t okay. My blood was boiling by this point.
I told him, “I”m going to step on your fucking phone.”
“Break my fucking phone and I’ll break your ass! Break my fucking phone, you bxtch!”
Again and again, he yelled.
Eventually, we got the two girls to get up. One of them was struggling, so I found her water and had to help her up.
I’m still pissed.
Later, at Carls’ Jr. I was in line for the bathroom and this one girl in line began asking others if they were gay, straight, bi.
Never had I felt so uncomfortable and put on the spot. Never had someone attempted to out me like that in a space where I felt so unsafe and so uncomfortable. I mumbled something confusing.
“It’s like we’re family here, it’s safe. We can love whoever, fuck whoever – no one will judge,” said another girl in line.
It made me sad that these were two womxn of color and yet, I still did not feel safe — and I definitely did not agree.
Pride was unsafe – for womxn, for trans* folks, for folks of color, for those living in the margins of the queer community.
To make matters worse, I think of the locals – especially the low-income people of color. I think of who has to clean up the mess Pride leaves behind. I think of the commuters, who now might be late to work because BART is packed. I think of how commodified this tradition has become and the capitalism behind it. I think of the damage done to this beautiful city today. I think of the trans* folks in prison and the high incarceration rates of black/brown queer bodies. I think of the folks who wish they could be here to celebrate their identities and intersectionalities but cannot come because they feel too unsafe. Fuck – not to mention the folks that were ARRESTED for protesting the PRISON PARTY that occurred earlier in the weekend… How we gon celebrate our identities when our own community is being incarcerated for fighting for what’s right?
I definitely did not feel proud.