On June 11, over one hundred anti-corporate queers, led by LGBTQ people of color, blocked the annual Capitol Pride parade in Washington DC, with banners reading “no Pride in Prisons, Pipelines, Deportations,” “No Pride in Police Violence”, and “No Justice, No Pride.” The corporate sponsored march was forced to switch to an alternate route.
On June 17, 4 people were arrested disrupting the columbus ohio pride parade, to protest the acquittal of the Minnesota cop, Jeronimo Yanez, who shot and killed Philando Castile, who was unarmed.
But here in the Bay, the birthplace of both corporate pride and “Crash the Parade”, a Pride Board sponsored #Resistance Contingent will be paraded between the police barricades immediately following the pride board banner. This year, SF pride sponsors include:
Insurance companies opposing single payer health care: Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente
Banks funding pipelines including the Dakota Access Pipeline: Wells Fargo, US Bank, Chase, and Bank of America
Pharmaceutical companies profiteering off HIV, Hepatitis C, and cancer: Gilead, Genentech (Roche)
and, of course, Uber, and the polluter PG&E, whose profiteering resulted in the San Bruno explosion which killed 8 people.
The #Resistance Contingent includes the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, indivisible SF, and Refuse Fascism (organized by the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), who reversed policy in 2015 declaring, not a moment too soon, that trans and trans* people are part of the proletariat.) So it will be a party of parties not to be missed.
What is to be Done
Since the election of the proto-fascist trump, our inboxes have been deluged with calls to RESIST!, primarily by donating money to the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC), or the Corporate Democratic Party (CDP). It’s working out pretty well – the ACLU raised more money online during the first weekend of the Muslim Ban than they raised online in all of 2016. The NPICs are scrambling to be at the front leading our movements, with the appropriate degree of militancy, against the FOE (forces of evil). At last month’s California democratic convention, Nancy Pelosi led a chant of “resist.” The same convention may or may not have voted the chairmanship of the party to insider eric bauman over the more progressive African American Kimberly Ellis.
The terror of trump and the ascendancy of the ascendants requires that we put all of our issues aside. How dare we waste our time fighting gentrifying YIMBY’s when they too oppose trump? Shouldn’t the last 3% (Black population of SF) be happy to join with the white techies who have displaced them? The CDP tells us that this election wasn’t the assertion of white supremacy, similar to the 1876 election that put the last nail in the reconstruction coffin. Instead, they say, we must reach out to trump’s “working class” voters, by which they mean white men.
There is no question that the current reactionary regime installed by the most recent election is a threat to all oppressed groups, and that it must be stopped. The question is how a movement against it will be built. One strong pressure is to all fall in line beyond a slightly less objectionable portion of the ruling class, i.e. the CDP. We have willingly or unwittingly joined “the resistance”. So far in California “the resistance” is not even supporting the single-payer health care bill, but rather is organizing support for the CDP’s efforts to maintain the affordable care act, which has given hundreds of billions of dollars to insurance companies. Police killings of people of color, the Movement for Black Lives, the Lakota-led opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline are taking a back seat to the immediate need for opposition to the Muslim Ban, but really, can we only hold one anti-racist thought at a time?
California’s new budget allocates $49 million to funding lawyers to represent immigrants against deportation proceedings at ICE, which is (a) a good thing (b) not enough money and (c) mostly going to NPICs not public defenders. California has not said that its armed forces will resist federal agents who illegally attempt to remove California residents from their homes or businesses. The legislature is still considering how and whether it will remove current requirements to proactively report immigrants arrested for drug and certain other offenses, and to what extent local agencies will be allowed to work in joint task forces with ICE and homeland security.
Back to Corporate Pride
Bay Area queers, including LAGAI, have a long history of fighting the corporatization of our communities, and we have the well-worn It’s a Movement Not a Market banner to prove it. In the early 1980s, LAGAI used to organize “liberation contingents” that were moved further and further back in the LGBT Freedom Day Parade, until, in about 1986, we were placed second to last, in front of the national man-boy love association (NAMBLA), and our booth was placed much closer to the Vietnamese restaurant on Golden Gate Ave. than to any Pride activities. So we decided to stop paying to be in their parade, and crashed, often running into overly ambitious monitors. ACT-UP died-in to block the parade in the early 1990’s. In 1998, when Pride announced plans to charge admission to the celebration, LAGAI wheat-pasted a series of posters advocating “crash the parade”. In 2006, when QUIT! attempted to distribute our Estee Slaughter sleep masks at the end-of-parade celebration, monitors surrounded us and told us to move to the “free speech area somewhere near Hyde St. (In an odd twist, when we couldn’t find it and so asked a cop where the free speech area was, he said, “From sea to shining sea…”) In 2014 a bunch of us crashed the parade with OccuPride and died-in blocking the parade.
In 2016, after the Orlando Pulse Club shooting, Pride announced increased police, including “security screening.” The Pride Board had already named “Black Lives Matter” (not specifying who that was) as an organizational grand marshal and Janetta Johnson, from TGI Justice, as a community grand marshal. Janetta held a press conference stating that she and other people of color had pulled out of the parade, noting that increasing the SFPD presence doesn’t make queer people of color safer, especially given the recent police murders of Mario Woods, Luis Gongora, and Jessica Williams.
Last month, QUIT! held a Revoke the Rainbow action at the HRC. For ten years the “Human Rights Campaign” (HRC) has published a “corporate equality index,” which awards 100 percent ratings to companies such as shell and standard oil, pg&e, and wells fargo bank. In 2007 Gay Shame, LAGAI and QUIT! held an action during the Castro Street Fair at the HRC store. In 2015, LAGAI and QUIT! sponsored “Pop-Ups against Pinkwashing” which did street theater at several booths at the fair. This year we took QUIT!’s new pinkwashing prop to the HRC and neighboring Wells Fargo to demand that HRC stop pinkwashing corporations, and specifically Wells Fargo, which funded the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which is polluting Lakota lands. The Revoke the Rainbow campaign was initiated by Get Equal, a DC organization that had been formed to advocate for assimilationist goals like gay marriage, but which recently hired new staff and is challenging racism and corporatism in the queer movement. They were one of the groups that organized the blockade of Capitol Pride.
Now that the shock of the election is over, and the drudgery of the death regime grinds on, we need to move beyond Steven Colbert, the Russian election scandal, and the willful ignorance of trump and his colleagues. Unity must be based on our vision, of a society that works for all people, that eliminates racism and all oppression, that rebuilds our environment, ends imperialist domination, and that increases our ability to form the relationships we choose. This is not easily done in this white supremacist, capitalist, sexist society, but that is our only real fight. And trust me, Wells Fargo is not going to sponsor it.
So this year you won’t find us at the party of parties leading Corporate Pride. Instead, we’ll be at the Gay Shame Awards on June 22, which is “honoring” the policers and gentrifiers of our community, and at the Trans and Dyke Marches on June 23 and 24 respectively, which have never had corporate sponsors.