Blog Post: Pride Weekend

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Feb 3, 2024
New blog post by Jason L. – discussions in this thread, please
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This year, for the first, time, I noticed the absence of something in June: rainbows.

I’d never been particularly in love with them. The fact that Subaru will slap a rainbow on their ads, or that once a year a random company I never really patronize will reassure me how much they like the gays, has never moved the needle for me one way or the other. But this was the first year that I noticed how few of them there were to see, and for the first June in a long time, I felt worried.

It’s been building up: in the 2022 mid-term elections, I got this flyer in the mail in the state of Florida, and I want you to see it.

IMG_20240621_164233186-300x225.jpg


For those of you not clear what’s going on here, it’s of a person with a mustache and false eyelashes, and the caption reads “Thank you, Joe Biden and (Democratic Florida Senator) Charlie Cristie for making Floridians Pay off my student debt. Sent from the Republican Party of Florida. Don’t believe me? There’s a clearer link here.

We’ve seen it? Are we all appalled? Now let’s deconstruct it together. There’s a lot going on here. Let’s talk about what I see and what they’re tapping into.

This visual image is, obviously, of a college graduate whom we could say is non-gender-conforming. Both the frills and the use of makeup indicate that this student has a more provocative and non-traditional self-projection.

There are many economic arguments against student loan forgiveness, but this one taps into a cultural argument. By representing an outlier, the advertisement is communicating a false image of who, by and large, would be getting that forgiveness. Notice that there are no struggling single parents or people of color. No, this person seems to be male, white, and gleeful.

What it’s saying is that those people don’t deserve it.

Americans tend to be less uncomfortable when women experiment with gender norms than when men do. A “tomboy”, even as an adult, is far more unremarkable than a male who is experimenting with feminine fashion. Even as children, boys are discouraged from enjoying butterflies, flowers, and unicorns.

By choosing this image, the Republican Party wanted to alarm and shock. We assume that the student majored in something “useless”—often sneered at, dismissively, as gender studies by those who believe that college should be for manlier and less arcane subjects. Even given that, there’s no context. Is this student doing it for a fraternity prank? Is it a general experimentation with gender? Are we assuming that LGBTQ people cannot or naturally avoid STEM majors and focus on the frivolous and silly? More to the point, why is it our business to pass judgment upon someone who seems to be enjoying themselves?

The ambiguity of the model in the picture was picked to anger conservatives. At the end of the day, what the real message here is that since the government cannot discriminate between the worthy and unworthy legal behaviors, it is better that the benefit be cancelled altogether for everybody.

There are plenty of valid arguments in terms of economics, inflation, and precedent. But this is not one of them. But this argument itself has a disturbing history. Ultimately, this is a regressive image that gambles that the people receiving this message have an inner core of anti-gay prejudice that can be counted upon as a guide when it comes to the polls.

Think that this is an outlier? Let’s look at this image from the early 1980s:

welfare-queen-300x210.jpg


Ronald Reagan, who wanted to end the Welfare system, created the myth of the “Welfare Queen” based on one, cherry-picked case of welfare fraud. By creating and spreading the notion that women of color, especially in the cities, were “gaming” the system, he successfully managed to convince rural white voters that they needed to take steps to end or limit welfare. Why is that significant? Because just like in the case of student debt coverage, rural white males, especially in the South, are the most frequent long-term users of welfare programs. (Urban women of color were among the least likely groups to be on welfare).

And it wasn’t the first time, either. When riots broke out at Berkeley in the 1960s and 1970s during student protests, conservatives used it as a reason to gut spending on higher education. At the time, Berkeley charged no or very limited tuition. “We’re financing radicals!” said Reagan and his cadre of small-government goons. “KILL IT WITH FIRE!” By doing that, they were able to convince nervous taxpayers to vote against something that enabled free and low-cost education to the poorest members of society. With the presence of more detailed analytical data about what people love and hate, both parties have enthusiastically tackled the bogeymen and demons hiding in the back of everyone’s mind and weaponized them to their own advantage.

In other words, just as in the case of the student-debt argument, this cartoon is trying to harness people’s prejudices convince them to vote against their own interests. I wanted to share this because a lot of people are appalled but they are not actually connecting the dots to the actual strategy being employed here, and why it’s dangerous for all LGBT people.

And that brings me back to the rainbow deficit this year. This weekend will be the Saint Petersburg Pride festival. It is the largest in the Southeast and will attract over 300,000 people to the Sunshine City. But it comes within an ominous moment. The 2020s have seen a reassertion of conservative voices throughout the country. Conservative pundits now openly discuss gay marriage as a marker of the decline of our civilization, while canny international politicians like Vladimir Putin have weaponized the issue to assert his vision of “manlier” Russia fit to take on the effeminate West. It is Edward Saïd’s Orientalism in reverse.

St-Pete-Pride-2022-300x169.webp
In the face of that, the Pride celebration in St. Petersburg is an existential howl. It is a declaration of existence that should never have been needed to begin with but is starting to feel incredibly necessary. Over 25% of LGBT people go back into the closet after college, silencing themselves at the workplace with the implicit understanding that their private lives will impede their careers. Taken in the light of the increasingly dire Don’t-Say-Gay bills first introduced in Florida and exported throughout the country, the Pride celebrations have the feel of Weimar Berlin. It’s a colorful, flashy display of exuberance while predators circle around, waiting to pick off the weak and gloat at their downfall. It makes Pride events like these necessary on the macrolevel.

DEI-gone.jpg


And that is why those rainbows, that empty pursuit of my consumer loyalty, is so dearly missed this year. Target’s quiet walk-back of Pride decorations and the forced closure of DEI programs in universities around the country are a deeply concerning bellwether for the state of LGBT acceptance. For the first time in decades, American’s acceptance of gay marriage has plateaued and even seen some declines.

When the ink on your rights is still wet, it can be smudged quite a lot before the paper’s dry.

And it’s raining now.
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By @Jason L.
Get the discussion going – post your thoughts & comments in the thread below…
 
This is extremely worrying. Like Roe v Wade, the reversal of hard-won progress is depressing and frightening. The drive for equality, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of society was a huge step forward. It's 2024 and I can't believe we're having to have this discussion.

I just started a new job and was heartened to discover their passion for EDI - especially the networks set up for LGBTQ+, Race Equity and Neurodiversity which act as a 'critical friend' to the organisation. This organisation, however, is not necessarily representative of other work places in the UK, some of whom seem to pay lip service to, or fulfil only, the bare minimum requirements of the law.

Immigration is a hot topic in the UK. To me, it seemed that the Brexit referendum empowered people who interpreted this as permission to openly express racist and anti-Islam views which most would have kept hidden before. Reports of hate crime have been steadily rising.

In 2018, after Boris Johnson derided Muslim women who wear the veil as as looking like letter-boxes, Islamophobic incidents rose 375%. He has also made offensive statements relating to those from Africa: in 2002, he referred to 'watermelon smiles', used the term 'piccaninnies' and referred to 'little aids-ridden choristers' to describe a group of children who sang for him. He later apologised but the damage was done.

Hate crime against the LGBTQ+ community and those with a disability has doubled in the last ten years.

Those of us who want a society where EDI is valued must use our voice and our vote to counter these worrying trends.
 
When we arrived In Ireland the new Taoiseach, Irish PM, was a gay man who was ethnically Indian. Not many eyes were blinked. Then I began noticing the comments on Facebook and elsewhere, exact duplicates of the neonazi messages I saw in the US beginning in 2015.

Recently Dublin had riots organised by the far right that burned Garda cars and public buses. Yesterday a young private in the defence forces was let off with a suspended 3 year sentence after beating a young woman unconscious. Her crime was to tell him to stop yelling, "Faggot" at passersby.

There is an international revival of Nazism and they intend to win this time. They have refined the tactics Hitler used and they are taking down the democracies that might oppose them.
 
What I'm about to say will be open to misinterpretation, so I will make it very clear from the off.

I am 100% on side with LGBTQ. People have the right to be who they are and be happy.

Clear? Good.

Now, the awkward part.
A lot of the push back has come because Straight White Men (SWM) feel they are under attack, and honestly, I am one of them.

I can't read about LGBTQ initiatives without the, now inevitable, SWM=evil comment coming and it is hurtful. I understand it is a vocal minority, but they are vocal and they are loud.
T.V interviews, red carpets, talk shows...



This has become common place, and it's made people angry.
 
Historical and current context is everything. But lumping all individuals within a group together is a throwback, whatever group it's aimed at.
 
"Straight White Men (SWM) feel they are under attack." - First time in history. Not saying anyone should be under attack. Just an observation.

"It's made people angry." - I'm guessing by "people" that's referring to SWM. Everyone else has been angry about being attacked for quite a while now.

For things to change the end of the pendulum has to make a broad sweep. You're living in a time when the general group you fit into is the one needing the most change, so it's going to get the biggest whack. And because it's getting whacked for the first time, it's going to hurt. The backlash from this group is also hurting because unlike other groups that have had trouble ever being heard, this group is used to always being heard by default.

I am sorry that anyone is facing bias simply because of the group they fit into. But I don't think the bias SWM are facing is quite the same, do you?
 
It's all about money. The all mighty dollar.

Rainbow flags and Pride are wheeled out to make money. Companies don't do anything if it doesn't make them money and things that lose them money are quickly put away and not tried again. (Bud Light is a massive case in point - remember Dylan Mulvany?)

The smaller minded of the SWM demographic are upset. They are not as objective as you or I, and are now outright avoiding businesses with pride in the window. Is it right? Absolutely not.
But more are moving over to their way of thinking. "Why should I support people that hate me? Why should I help those that want to see me fail?"

It's total nonesense. You help because it's right. The one's doing the bashing are a minority within a minority. But again, many are not as objective as that. Humans are an emotional species, and therefore have emotional responses to things they feel threatened by.

And so Pride displays are moved to the back of the shop, rainbow flags are made smaller. It is a horrible thing to watch happen, but the all mighty dollar rules all.

My point is simply this; You can't move forward if you're constantly looking back. You can't fight hate with hate.

I'm not small minded enough to let a few comments about my demographic stop me supporting others, but I'd be lying if I told you it didn't hurt.

When the ink on your rights is still wet, it can be smudged quite a lot before the paper’s dry.

That is an apt way of putting it.
 
What I'm about to say will be open to misinterpretation, so I will make it very clear from the off.

I am 100% on side with LGBTQ. People have the right to be who they are and be happy.

Clear? Good.

Now, the awkward part.
A lot of the push back has come because Straight White Men (SWM) feel they are under attack, and honestly, I am one of them.

I can't read about LGBTQ initiatives without the, now inevitable, SWM=evil comment coming and it is hurtful. I understand it is a vocal minority, but they are vocal and they are loud.
T.V interviews, red carpets, talk shows...



This has become common place, and it's made people angry.

She was talking about this film. The Hate U Give (2018) ⭐ 7.5 | Crime, Drama. The Hate You Give and though it is particularly an American story the underlying racism isn't just for Americans.. The whole purpose of the story is to convey feelings, kindle compassion. If you don't cry when you see it there is something wrong with you. It's time the US celebrated its black roots. There is a strong argument that all of American culture recognised in the world came from afro-american beginnings. BBQ, Jazz, dance....

When the ink on your rights is still wet, it can be smudged quite a lot before the paper’s dry.

Yes the Equal Rights Amendment was to cement women's rights in the Constitution. Without it what seemed unthinkable in the 70's could very well happen in the next 5 years unless the Supreme Court changes. The goal of this activist court is to make owning property connected with voting. Not so fast those of you with mortgages. How many women own property in their name? With only men voting the extreme right feel confident they can return the US to the 1770's.
 
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She was talking about this film. The Hate U Give (2018) ⭐ 7.5 | Crime, Drama. The Hate You Give and though it is particularly an American story the underlying racism isn't just for Americans. White people cried when they watched Roots. The whole purpose of the story is to convey feelings, kindle compassion. If you don't cry when you see it there is something wrong with you. It's time the US celebrated its black roots. There is a strong argument that all of American culture recognised in the world came from afro-american beginnings. BBQ, Jazz, dance....
See, I didn't know that.

That clip is being thrown around the internet with an entirely different context attached to it. A lesson for me there about doing more research.
 
What I'm about to say will be open to misinterpretation, so I will make it very clear from the off.

I am 100% on side with LGBTQ. People have the right to be who they are and be happy.

Clear? Good.

Now, the awkward part.
A lot of the push back has come because Straight White Men (SWM) feel they are under attack, and honestly, I am one of them.

I can't read about LGBTQ initiatives without the, now inevitable, SWM=evil comment coming and it is hurtful. I understand it is a vocal minority, but they are vocal and they are loud.
T.V interviews, red carpets, talk shows...



This has become common place, and it's made people angry.

I see the point you're making.
But I wonder if it might not be a good thing that people are angry, because that opens things up for honest discussion?
The SWM reaction is not dissimilar to things I've seen that deal with race issues.
For which, if we're opening up the floor for issues to be discussed, can I recommend a documentary (I think it's on Netflix) called DECONSTRUCTING KAREN. Made me really consider my own reactions to things.
I'm not saying the two issues are the same, by any means, but the way the reaction is often vocalised does ring some bells for me here, and I find it interesting.
I wonder what others think?
 
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Where have all the rainbows gone? It's subtler in the UK.

As a bi woman working in the NHS, I have a problem with rainbows. Several years back, in a move towards inclusivity and diversity, we were encouraged to wear rainbow lanyards and lapel badges to show patients and staff that the NHS was a safe place for LGBTQI+ people. Some of my colleagues refused to wear them, which made it feel like a less safe space for those of us who did.
I work in Blackpool, a holiday town with a long history of gay pride where LGBTQ+ people come to retire - and need our medical care towards the end of their lives. I thought the rainbow lapel badge, although token, was an important thing and a lot of patients appreciated it.
Then the pandemic hit and someone, somewhere, looked at the rainbows that NHS staff wore and decided that this was the symbol of the NHS and of brave keyworkers, and absolutely nothing to do with inclusivity and diversity.
We've been robbed of our rainbows in the UK by the crumbling institution that I work for and that I always believed in until recently (that's a whole other debate).
I mentioned this to a couple of colleagues who said I was paranoid. Maybe I am. But it still pisses me off.
If we try to mark Pride month at work, people just think it's a Save the NHS campaign again.
 
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Where have all the rainbows gone? It's subtler in the UK.

As a bi woman working in the NHS, I have a problem with rainbows. Several years back, in a move towards inclusivity and diversity, we were encouraged to wear rainbow lanyards and lapel badges to show patients and staff that the NHS was a safe place for LGBTQI+ people. Some of my colleagues refused to wear them, which made it fell like a less safe space for those of us who did.
I work in Blackpool, a holiday town with a long history of gay pride where LGBTQ+ people come to retire - and need our medical care towards the end of their lives. I thought the rainbow lapel badge, although token, was an important thing and a lot of patients appreciated it.
Then the pandemic hit and someone, somewhere, looked at the rainbows that NHS staff wore and decided that this was the symbol of the NHS and of brave keyworkers, and absolutely nothing to do with inclusivity and diversity.
We've been robbed of our rainbows in the UK by the crumbling institution that I work for and that I always believed in until recently (that's a whole other debate).
I mentioned this to a couple of colleagues who said I was paranoid. Maybe I am. But it still pisses me off.
If we try to mark Pride month at work, people just think it's a Save the NHS campaign again.
I didn't know that's how the rainbow for the NHS thing started. I did think it was odd at the time.
What makes me really sad and very pissed off is that you had to adopt the rainbow lanyard in the first place. It is shameful to think that our healthcare system doesn't treat peole equally. Sadly, also not that surprising, given the mood in recent years.
 
I didn't know that's how the rainbow for the NHS thing started. I did think it was odd at the time.
What makes me really sad and very pissed off is that you had to adopt the rainbow lanyard in the first place. It is shameful to think that our healthcare system doesn't treat peole equally. Sadly, also not that surprising, given the mood in recent years.
Most health care professionals do treat patients with equal compassion and respect, or at least try to. It's in our training and our codes of conduct. But it only takes one slip, one careless staff member, to ruin a patient's experience completely.
And a lot of people have prejudices, even if they don't let it show to the patient. I hear comments from staff that the patients don't.
As a senior clinician, I continue to challenge any such comment, and as such I have a bit of a reputation. I've even stood up to my past-retirement-age, SWM, senior GP partner - not many people do - but I've worked for him long enough and we have a good relationship, and now he doesn't dare mis-pronoun anyone, at least not when I'm around.
Sometimes they seem like little things, but we've got to keep chipping away to make any kind of difference to the larger issues.
 
Where have all the rainbows gone? It's subtler in the UK.

As a bi woman working in the NHS, I have a problem with rainbows. Several years back, in a move towards inclusivity and diversity, we were encouraged to wear rainbow lanyards and lapel badges to show patients and staff that the NHS was a safe place for LGBTQI+ people. Some of my colleagues refused to wear them, which made it feel like a less safe space for those of us who did.
I work in Blackpool, a holiday town with a long history of gay pride where LGBTQ+ people come to retire - and need our medical care towards the end of their lives. I thought the rainbow lapel badge, although token, was an important thing and a lot of patients appreciated it.
Then the pandemic hit and someone, somewhere, looked at the rainbows that NHS staff wore and decided that this was the symbol of the NHS and of brave keyworkers, and absolutely nothing to do with inclusivity and diversity.
We've been robbed of our rainbows in the UK by the crumbling institution that I work for and that I always believed in until recently (that's a whole other debate).
I mentioned this to a couple of colleagues who said I was paranoid. Maybe I am. But it still pisses me off.
If we try to mark Pride month at work, people just think it's a Save the NHS campaign again.
A new twist. I hadn't even thought of that. What an awful, ridiculous dilemma.

But I love the image of Blackpool being a haven for elderly rainbowists. There IS a novel there. Better yet a series with Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart running a boarding house for retired entertainers, perhaps?
 
A new twist. I hadn't even thought of that. What an awful, ridiculous dilemma.

But I love the image of Blackpool being a haven for elderly rainbowists. There IS a novel there. Better yet a series with Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart running a boarding house for retired entertainers, perhaps?
There are plenty of places like that in Blackpool - ripe for a comedy drama.
The people I meet in my job have so many untold stories. It really is a privilege.
 
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