First of all, Happy Belated Pride, Toronto!
I attended Pride this year for the 3rd or 4th time and as usual spent the bulk of my time at Blockorama, which is the stage event organized by and for black queer & trans folks whose performers are not limited to drag queens, dance troupes and vocalists. So the random list of my musings on Blocko begins …
- I don’t know if I’ll ever watch the actual Pride Parade. I accidentally went to watch the Caribana parade once a few years ago but realised that if I’m not in the parade it makes absolutely no sense for me to stand up and watch people pass by – I’m a voyeur but only of more private interactions (sounds creepy doesn’t it?). So unless I’m ever working with an organization that has a float I will never see the Parade, and even then I guess I won’t see much except the one float I’m associated with.
There are ALOT of black LGBTQ people and allies. There are alot of YOUNG black LGBTQ people and allies. It was really nice to see so many people who look like my wider communities out. Being in Blocko’s space after walking around the Village and seeing so many information booths about how homophobic the rest of the world (read “places where people of colour live”) is, and knowing that there’s so much racism tied up within that, and knowing also that colonization of places like the Caribbean has resulted in a very distinct, often vocal, homophobia being present, it was really nice to be reminded that there are these huge forces within our communities that are working to eradicate homophobia within themselves and others. I often forget that and I’m not sure that the wider world knows.
- I’m not sure how I feel about those “Str8” stickers. The friend I went with knew before we got there that she wanted 2 stickers: one that said Top and one that said Single.She encouraged me to get the “Str8” sticker but I just wasn’t comfortable with it. I always wondered why they were at Pride because Pride isn’t about Straight people, and being a straight person in that space I feel I should constantly check myself – why am I in the space, what kind of space am I taking up, am I “consuming” LGBTQ cultures and spaces (&) through a very hetero-normative lens? In all this I never don’t tell people I’m straight if asked, or let womyn know if they express interest, but I feel like the “Str8” sticker and the “Ally” button to a lesser extent have a very “yes, I’m here but please don’t think I’m gay or anything!” feel to them. Or maybe that’s all my shit, but it’s definitely something I want to continue to think about.
- I’ve grown to enjoy Vogue performers. I used to get very bored during vogueing – yes you’re doing things with your hands but I can do those things too! To me if any performer on stage is doing something that I can do they can’t be that good. But House of Monroe (who I’ve seen before and not appreciated as much) performed, and I really loved them. A few of the House of Monroe members did things that I couldn’t do. Even the ones who didn’t were still enjoyable because of this ridiculously fantastic, strong, supportive energy the audience was giving.
- Sexism is a helluva thing. a) I remember going to a workshop called “The Joy of Gender” on transgender issues, and in the introduction the trans-man running the workshop was speaking about gender performers, specifically drag queens, and described them as being men who dress up as womyn, perform as them and in it say all these awful and hilarious things about womyn. This was the first time I’d heard Drag Queens explained as such and I remember thinking and actually voicing a concern in the workshop about the misogyny/sexism involved in a man performing as a womon, getting to say look how ridiculous these people are with their overdone makeup and heels etc, and at the end of the day taking off that costume and having male-bodied privilege. I definitely feel that way about Tyler Perry and his Madea character.
- Sexism is a helluva thing. b) The House of Monroe “hype-man”/mic-man, while introducing some of the men who vogued, quite casually used alot of language like “bitch” and “pussy”, which really hit me hard. I can get down on reclaimed language but I’m just wondering – are those words words for men to reclaim?
- Sexism is a helluva thing. c) Female gender performers (drag kings) get no love. Womyn performers in general get so much less love alot of the times. Just as the Dyke March on Saturday gets no love and a 5 minute route.
- I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to out of context penises. My friends know that I hate penis photos or dick pics as people call them. I don’t appreciate getting uninvited multimedia messages from anyone whether or not I’m sleeping with them. I do not appreciate the aesthetic value of penises outside of “we’re about to have sex” zone – and maybe this is something I need to work on or something but that being said I saw at least 8 men displaying full frontal nudity at Pride and I tried to not display the full level to which I did not appreciate the sight but I’m not sure I succeeded. Power to all the people showing their breasts, penises and backsides, takes alot of courage, reclaiming space, de-stigmatizing bodies, all that. I appreciate it in theory but out of context penises, I can’t get down with you. I really can’t.
How was your Pride weekend? What are your thoughts on str8 stickers, ally buttons, gender performers and out of context penises?