Pride and Prejudice and Cishet Intruders

New York City Pride balloons

This summer I went to Pride in London for the first time, and, as their ill thought out poster campaign promised, I met more than a few glittery cisgender heterosexuals looking for an excuse to party. When I am entering a queer space that is born out of the marginalisation of LGBTQ+ people, I find it completely jarring for somebody to brazenly state “Oh I’m straight, but I love the gays”.

If you ask a cishet person why they’re going to Pride, they’ll inevitably say that it is because they want to show their support for our community. However uncomfortable I feel with their attendance, I’m then put in the awkward position of having to argue against something that is dressed up as a kind and considerate gesture. But as Rae (@unraesonable) said on twitter, “I never see cishets offering support like covering their queer friends’ shifts at work so they can attend Pride, donating £ for tickets, offering to steward or help out with clean-up after the parade. Just the kinda support that lets them party.”

Another common response when getting called out is a defensive cries of “You’re being hypocritical”, “Nobody should be outcast from anything” and of course “But I thought Pride was all about acceptance.”

“Pride is born out of the history of the violent oppression of LGBTQ+ peope.”

This is, of course, inaccurate, because Pride is about queer liberation, community, resilience, solidarity, protest, and commemorating the Stonewall Riots. Pride is born out of the history of the violent oppression of LGBTQ+ people, so it is completely understandable that lots of us don’t want to welcome our cishet pals to the party. Similarly, our club scene comes from LGBTQ+ people being pushed underground and having to find places to live and love away from our straight peers, and yes our spaces are fun and glittery and joyful but often they are the only places we get to be unashamedly ourselves and surrounded by our queer family. This is a euphoria that cishet people couldn’t possibly comprehend.

I’m not saying that there is any hard and fast rules for if cishet people can or should attend Pride or go out to a gay club, but in my personal opinion unless you are accompanying your friend/relative/partner who is LGBTQ+, you should probably stay well away. Of course this is definitely something that has to be self policed otherwise we’d end up barring people who are closeted, questioning or LGBTQ+ people who just look straight (whatever that means.) That sort of literal gatekeeping is definitely not something I or any other queer person should condone.

But if you look at queer spaces like our clubs and Pride and just see the fun, the glitter, and an excuse for a party then maybe these spaces that were born out of our marginalisation aren’t for you to consume.

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