Pride discourse is counterproductive to its mission

Three hands, all different skin tones, each holding a rainbow pride flag over a light pink background

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo / The Cougar

Pride month is afoot, and with the season must come an onslaught of discourse relating to who, and what, is “allowed” at pride events. From kinks to straight people, there are widespread discussions on the validity of every group in attendance. At the end of the day, though, these arguments are not only counterproductive but harmful to the idea of pride as a whole.

“Straight” boyfriends

One of the hottest debates on X recently has been on the issue of whether or not bisexual women should bring their straight boyfriends to pride events. This discussion had led to both lighthearted memes about “cishet boyfriend enrichment areas” and heated arguments insisting that pride isn’t for straight people, end of story. 

A big issue with these arguments is that you can’t tell at first glance whether or not someone is straight, or cisgender, for that matter. It’s easy to look at a couple and assume a “bisexual girlfriend with a straight boyfriend,” but what if that’s not the case?

What if said boyfriend is also bisexual? What if they’re transgender? Out of a multitude of queer labels, why default to cishet for a person that you don’t know?

In addition to this, it’s somewhat telling that this sort of discourse has been focused almost entirely on blaming the hypothetical bisexual women in question.

There’s nothing wrong with bringing your partner to pride, even if they aren’t queer. If nothing else, it’s good to have more allies supporting the cause and educate those that may not understand the ins and outs of queer culture.

Sexual content

In addition to the cishet boyfriend discourse, there’s always the discussion of sexual content at pride events. It’s inarguable that throughout queer history, sex has been an important facet of queer identity.

Unfortunately, though, there are many that argue that sexual topics don’t belong at pride events at all.

While it’s true that there are minors at many pride events, it’s a common, disingenuous point to bring up when there are just as many family-friendly events as there are 18+ ones.

When it comes down to it, this argument is mostly about respectability politics. There’s an unfortunate common idea among young queer people that LGBTQ+ identities shouldn’t involve sex at all so that respect can be garnered from those outside the community.

The idea that such an important part of queer history and identity must be purged to make others comfortable is an insult to those that have fought, and continue to fight, for LGBTQ+ rights. The goal should not be to water queerness down in order to assimilate into the majority culture. The whole point of pride is in the name, and pride should not be conditional.

The real issue with pride events

All of this bears the question: why is the focus on petty disagreements that invalidate sections of the queer community when there are pride events being sponsored by weapons manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin, or other companies complicit in Palestinian genocide?

Every year, there are pride parades sponsored by oil companies and weapons manufacturers, yet the most pressing online discourse is about whether or not women should be allowed to bring their partners to pride.

It’s divisive and entirely misdirected to point fingers at bisexual people for simply sharing queer joy with their loved ones. Shaming bisexuals for dating the opposite sex is far past worn out. In the same vein, it’s just as divisive to pretend sex isn’t important to queer history.

There are pride events being directly supported by heinous companies. Companies that could absolutely be pushed out of LGBTQ+ spaces if the community stood together to make that happen, and stopped squabbling over who is allowed to do what in order to appeal to the masses.

The first pride was to commemorate a riot. That riot didn’t happen just for the LGBTQ+ community to divide itself over petty, invalidating arguments. That riot shaped who we are today, and was the first step of many in creating a world where we’re allowed to be openly prideful at all.

This June, take time to remind yourself of queer roots and focus on making a better place for LGBTQ+ people to feel safe among themselves and allies. We get nowhere through pointless exclusion when there are genuine issues to be addressed with pride events.

Parker Hodges-Beggs is a sophomore journalism major who can be reached at [email protected]

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