Monday, 18 July 2016

Why A Queer Pride Parade Is Not The Place to Keep Jeremy Corbyn

The Pride parade in Newcastle on Saturday was great.  It really was.  Northern Pride Events Ltd. do a fine job organising everything each year with the police and local authority so that the parade can happen.  I may have a few issues with other aspects of the event across the weekend but, for me at least, joining the parade is one of the great pleasures of the year.

It is perhaps the moment in which the most people gather together in Newcastle and all have smiles on their faces.  And it's pretty glorious.

This year the parade was also pretty political with various political groups being represented among those who walked.  I've been reflecting about something in particular regarding the manners in which political groups parade for Pride:

The manner in which their walking is acceptable and adds to the visible display that demonstrates the reason why we parade.

And the manner in which their walking can be unacceptable, diminishing the visible display and supplants the reason for the day with other reasons that steal from the festival and from the people the festival represents.

So, a few thoughts:

A: I personally want Jeremy Corbyn to remain leader of the Labour party.  That's just my view.  Others disagree.  And that's fine.  At Pride that's not important at all.  Not.  At.  All.

B: I know some of the people actively campaigning for this to happen. And they're all nice.  I really like the people I know.  I'd happily stand by them in much of their campaigning if I had the energy to do it.

I was talking and walking with one of the prominent local campaigners later in the day.  I really like him a lot and am really grateful to know him.  He does a whole load of good in Newcastle and beyond and to be honest I look upon him with some admiration and am glad every time he encourages me that I might be able, health permitting, to do much good too.  Among the active campaigners there are many people like him.

C. And here is my grumbling point:

I honestly don't think that "Keep Corbyn" placards are appropriate at a Pride parade.  I think they are great, in their place.  But that place is most definitely not a Pride parade.

The Pride parade is about LGBTQIA+ people.

It's about inclusiveness and the celebration of all people regardless of sexuality and gender.

It's political and should be a call for social justice, the rights and freedoms and acceptance of all people, here and worldwide.

It's a remembrance of everyone who has fought to get us where we are.

It's a shout out for those people who suffer today because of their sexuality or gender.

It's a shout out for those people who through persecution or fear of rejection or any other reason cannot stand openly and say "I am gay" or "I am trans" or "I am a polyamorous trans bisexual" or whatever else they may desperately want to be able to say.

And for other people who may not even think about any of those things it's a chance to be fabulously themselves and enjoy a party atmosphere before partying on for the rest of the day and night.

The Queer Pride parade is many things.  They all concern us.  They don't concern Jeremy Corbyn,

What it is not is an excuse for a campaign to keep a single person as head of a single political party.  I say that as someone who happens to agree fully with the aims of that particular campaign.

The parade is about LGBTQIA+ people.  Not about a political personality.  We may love that personality.  We may loathe them.  But unless they've just been putting through anti-queer legislation that we want to campaign against, then Pride is not and will never be about them.

I would also think it completely inappropriate to display placards for any other leader, or calling to support any other party, or even those awful Nando's flags from last year.  I'm only grumbling about Jeremy Corbyn supporters because they were the ones I saw with the most placards that had party political campaign slogans on display.

I am very happy that members of the local Labour party parade. I am happy that members of the Green party parade, that a church parades, and people from Trades Unions and all kinds of other groups.  Hey, I'm far from being a Conservative but if the good people from LGBTory showed up then I would be very happy to see them.

Some parading from those groups are queer, others are allies. It's all good. I am glad that the organisations that parade are either inclusive already in their policies and practicalities or their members campaign for full inclusiveness.

But I only remain happy as long as they parade as part of their ongoing efforts for equality and freedom rather than as an attempt at converting anyone to their own group.

And that doesn't matter what group. Labour, Green, Conservative, those Socialist Worker people with their SWP placards, religious groups, Unions, workers from Asda or Sainsburys. Any group.

March with us, stand with queer people of all the different varieties we exist in.

But don't use our day, our one day of the year of publicly celebrating ourselves, for your own cause.

Because then you're not being an ally. You're being an idiot. You're distracting from the day. Diluting Queer Pride.

It's an issue if someone simultaneously claims to be our allies and then hijacks our parade for their own purposes.  I for one do not want allies like these.

If you plan to promote your cause on our day then I for one would prefer you to naff off and not walk with us.

I was at a rally for refugees recently. Some people brought placards about the EU - it was just before the referendum. They were told in no uncertain terms not to display those placards. It was a refugee rally NOT about the EU and whether anyone thought we should remain in it or leave.
So why the hell do people think it's appropriate to display their "Keep Corbyn" placards at a Pride parade?
I happen to agree with the sentiment and the call to keep Jeremy Corbyn - assuming the members of the Labour party (I am not one of them) vote to keep him.  And assuming they are allowed to vote for him, which is another matter for campaigning.  Yes, I agree.  And I agree that campaigning for this political cause is a valid course of action.
But that's not the point is it?

This is our parade.  This is our cause.

For one day, for one moment, if you want to promote some other cause, just butt out.
If you want to promote some other cause, then do so.  But do it somewhere else.

For just that one moment raise all queer people up.

For just that one moment forget about your own agendas.  Leave them behind.

Please, if you brought your own agenda this year then leave it behind next year.

Please, next year stand solely for us, not for yourselves.

And if you can't do that, then don't parade at all.

I don't want you claiming to be our ally if you hijack our parade.

If you want to hijack it for your politics then, and I'll put this in undiplomatic words, just fuck off for the day.

If you want to hijack it for your politics then I don't want you there.  Stay away.  Please.

We can meet for a drink later.  We can walk together with your placards on another day.

But on our day march for us and us alone or fuck off!

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