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Does Bloomfield Hate the Gays Now?

Note: I’ve made one change to my post based upon the comments I received. Eli’s comment- she said it well- what this march is all about. I’ve left the text present, but display the change as strikethrough, to denote the change. The opinions expressed here are solely my own and do not represent any one else or any organization.

The Case of the Missing Pride Parade

I got the strangest set of direct messages (type of twitter message) from @CarmanAvenue this afternoon:

11:50 BTW I’m going to be at Donatelli’s for the parade.

2:40 Are you on the parade route?

3:15 hey blocked off Liberty for hours so that a small group could walk down the street chanting. People expected a real Pride parade.

3:27 Bad PR. The cops even blocked off the street for hours.

3:46 Everyone on the street thought it was [a pride parade]. I think even the cops thought it was.

3:48 don’t know the source. My guess is bad communication from the Dyke March.

4:34 I don’t know if you’d be able to track it down. It was the talk all over the neighborhood.

4:37 People were very annoyed that the streets were blocked off at noon for a small group that didn’t start marching until 3. Bad 4 the community.

What actually was happening was the Dyke and Trans March.  In the past, I think it was only called the Dyke March, but for some reason, I think the name was expanded. I had every intention of going this year to support  them, but after being away for work most of the week, and then trying to pack to be ready to move in a few weeks, I couldn’t fit everything in today.

Still, it has me really intrigued as to how or why the Bloomfield community came to the assumption that there was a Pride Parade happening today. I think the Dykes had applied for a permit or whatever they needed to have police protection. In the past that has been their big complaint- that the police weren’t there to offer protection. But really- shut the entire street down through a business section of a business neighborhood in the middle of a Saturday?

Last year the Dyke March was in Oakland/Sq Hill near the CMU campus I believe. Someone correct me if I have that wrong. This year, it was moved to Bloomfield after the altercation between a drag queen and some drunk bar patrons. The event was originally characterized as a gay bashing, however, as the facts have come to light, it looks as if it was simply a fight started by a homophobic slur, but the queen threw the first punch.

So, where are we now? A Pittsburgh neighborhood which relies of traffic and business on a Saturday, has the main thorofare shut down (starting at noon??) for an event that was to start at 4PM (??) that included only a small number of participants. The residents (and the police on the street??) think that what is happening- or supposed to happen is Pittsburgh’s Pride Parade. and now they’re annoyed.

Local lesbian blogger, Sue Kerr explains the Dyke March:

…allow women who don’t typically attend fundraisers and public meetings the safety to exercise their first amendment rights?

I’m all for anyone being able to exercise their first amendment rights, but I’m really at a loss to see how today’s action really did that? I guess for the small group of participants, it did- I hope they felt seen or heard or whatever they wanted.

For me the bigger question is, what do they really want and how are they communicating it?  How is it that the residents of Bloomfield thought that what was happening was a Pride Parade? Were the organizers trying to co-opt Pittsburgh Pride, or the reputation of Pittsburgh Pride (which is not a parade either, but also a march that happens next Sunday in downtown Pittsburgh). Or did the organizers of today’s event just do a truly lousy job of communicating their plan and purpose?

Pride is many things to many different people, but generally speaking, it is a celebration and a commemoration of the Stonewall Riots in New York city, where a rag tag bunch of lesbians, gays, drag queens and assorted characters refused to be intimidated by the bullying cops, and fought back. Many see it as the start of the modern Gay Rights Movement.

How today’s event fit into that history is beyond me. This march continues in that tradition of people, raising their voices and being visible.

I think there are some who do not feel they have an adequate voice within the larger LGBT community. It may be real or only perceived, but that doesn’t matter in some regard. These individuals feel as if the “Gay Community” in the broadest sense of what it is, doesn’t represent them, or give their voice and needs agency. In the past, I have always had respect for these individuals to stand up and do what they needed to, and to some degree, I still feel that way. I’m just baffled, as to how what they felt the need to do, got misconstrued as a Pride Parade.

Something leads me to think that this Dyke March isn’t only about the exercising of first amendment rights at all, but it is about seeking or getting validation from city officials? Kerr writes:

Don’t get me wrong — I had responses when I reached out, but not a single leader offered to attend in solidarity with these women.

Maybe I’ll be wrong and they’ll show.  I’ll let you know.

For me the standby chant is, We’re Here! We’re Queer! Get Used to it! It isn’t about seeking validation or demanding solidarity! It is about having your own voice and declaring yourself as equal, and valued and important. We become empowered when we stop expecting validation from others, and give ourselves voice!

Photo used in cooperation with the Creative Commons License, Photographer: See-ming Lee ??? SML