A Tide of Rainbow Rolls In: NYC Pride 2021

I was skeptical of this whole “going to Pride” thing. As an out lesbian, who, usually identifies as female and loves an androgynous presentation (but) despises the idea of identifying anywhere close to maleness (I guess lets to just say I’m an androgynous woman who uses she/they pronouns)… Anyway, I’ve always been a little bit skeptical of the modern pride march. As I’ve become more aware in my journey to class consciousness, in my journey of total liberation through Marxism, the irony of what often goes on at Pride has not escaped me. The commercialization of rainbow apparel from companies who have profited off of the exploitation of the queer community, neoliberal politicians jumping onto the same bandwagon they made fun of just ten years ago. Even when I was there this Sunday, I saw a whole man and sticking his penis in everyone’s faces, completely naked, I couldn’t help but think about the male privilege of taking a movement historically rooted in the liberation of trans folk and traumatizing a whole crowd of people. Sure, nudity and body liberation historically comes with that, but not a white guy swinging his penis into every gal’s face because all of a sudden we’re celebrating. 

I was scared I’d run into the gays who went to brunch the day after George Floyd was murdered. 

Who used their whiteness to masquerade an identity in which their skin color will always take precedence. I myself, my own presentation is one of privilege, would I be appropriating a fight routed in anti-capitalist, anti-white supremacist, and gender abolitionist tendencies? Wearing rainbows and glitter when trans kids are committing suicide at disproportionately high rates seemed juvenile honestly. 

Before going to NYC Pride this past Sunday I did some reading and some listening, Audre Lorde, one of the most inspirational lesbians I’ve read or known of in my lifetime wrote

“The love expressed between women is particular and powerful because we have had to love in order to live; love has been our survival.”

I actually really enjoyed pride. As a self-identifying introvert who hates the heat and crowds, I was surprisingly brought in by this rainbow tide and mixed into the other salty and sandy and sometimes murky shenanigans; and it was alright. A tide of rainbows embraced me and for the first time, I held my chest out full, didn’t flinch at the sight of a man, let myself daydream a little. People were dancing and drinking and smoking and laughing and even in my own little bubble the tide took me out slowly but surely and I realized the power in Pride. Pride is powerful because for the first time in forever we could take a break and not worry about our presentation. 

We took the subway back towards the end of our long day. A local guy and his trumpet played Miles Davis and my girlfriend and I took a moment to embrace and dance slowly. I didn’t feel eyes on my back like I did when I didn’t wear a dress to prom. I didn’t have to worry about the falsity of the predatory lesbian trope that stopped me from standing tall when I was an athlete in high school. I didn’t have to look both ways before I kissed my girlfriend and that was a new feeling for me.

As our neoliberal politicians try to erase queer history and convince us that we’ve achieved total equality already, let us remember moments like this one; and mostly, how rare they are. I like to imagine what I felt at Pride as a tide bringing me into a new bay of water. Sure I might run into waves and sea-creatures that are unfriendly. Sandbars that break up me from my family. Buoys that float and disturb the water’s peace, a huge shipping container boat disturbing the natural flow of the sea. Yet the tide still came in and I was still salty and sandy and warmed by the sun. Pride mattered to me because it was the first time where I felt like I could openly love. And as Audre Lorde wrote 

“Love has been our survival.”

Published by ellakotsen

student at Bryn Mawr College

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