In Portland every year, many churches participate in the Pride parade. Thanks to organizations such as the Community of Welcoming Congregations (CWC), an increasing number of Portland area churches have adopted resolutions to welcome people of sexual minorities into the life and leadership of their respective faith communities. With the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell and recent Obama Administration's statements in favor of same-sex marriage, it may look like this is the year to celebrate the Pride.
But this only tells part of the big picture.
The Occupy movement is once again challenging everyone to question the institution and reclaim the people power. This summer, the global Occupy the Pride (Occupride) actions spanning across the globe from Tel Aviv to Madrid to Montreal to New York to Portland will reclaim the spirit of the Pride.
As the Pride celebrations everywhere have become commercialized, the organizers call for reclaiming the Pride from the One Percent. In many major cities Pride parades are literally sponsored by ALEC member corporations.
From California to North Carolina, and around the world, our relationships remain under assault by the State. The progress made so-far by the established LGBT Rights movement has been uneven, excluding trans women, homeless youth and elders, people of color, low-income and poor communities, immigrants, gender non-conforming people, people with disabilities, neurovariant people and sex workers — the very communities whose militant resistance to police brutality and vice patrol raids first gave life to the Gay and Trans Liberation movement. Now, the life-or-death (primarily economic) needs of marginalized people are ignored by the mainstream LGBT Rights movement in favor of symbolic victories for relatively-privileged members of our communities.
For too long, we have been force-fed an ¨LGBT Rights¨ program centered largely around the priorities of wealthy gay cisgender white men (whom writer Allison Kilkenny aptly referred to as the 1% of the LGBTQ community). Of course every relationship should be cherished and honored. But why are we fighting for marriage equality while trans, queer, and gender non-conforming people are dying, losing their jobs, and being locked up at dramatically higher rates than straight, cisgender populations? Why are we fighting for a few more documented monogamous couples to be let into an exclusionary institution instead of demanding health care, immigration status, respect, and autonomy for everyone? Of course no one should be discriminated against on their job (or anywhere). But why are we celebrating the repeal of the U.S. military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy (which does not even benefit trans servicemembers in any way) while soldiers are still being sent to die in unjust wars and veterans are doomed to poverty because every social program has been cut in the name of austerity?
Transgender people face universal job discrimination and half have considered suicide. In Washington, D.C. alone, at least half a dozen trans women of color have died violently in the past year, and there are many more in other cities. We will not fight for inclusion in institutions that are built on profit, hierarchy, competition, violence, incarceration, and coercion — especially when these very institutions are the ones carrying out our oppression by killing us, putting us in jails, and leaving us hungry in the streets. We do not need to assimilate into an unjust system. We need mutual aid. We need a revolt. We need — we demand — homes, food, communities, health care, and legal status for all. We demand the end of poverty, criminalization, police brutality, profiling in the criminal justice system, ¨bullying¨ (better known to us as assault and harassment), psychiatric control of our identities, and discrimination. We demand a radically re-imagined society, and we are here to build it.
Occupy The Pride Portland will be on Sunday, June 17 at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. It will be primarily a non-commercial "parkupation"-style community gathering to celebrate together as the Occupride greets the parade contingents.
For more information about this action, see http://occupridepdx.wordpress.com
This is not an official Interfaith Guild of Chaplains event, and this is not an official statement of the Interfaith Guild of Chaplains. This is provided solely for informational purposes.