Pride Etiquette for our Straight Allies
With the QC Pride Parade right around the corner, I felt it was important to share some proper etiquette, explanations and rules for our straight allies to recognize.
First and foremost, I'd like everyone to understand that the decision for Work The Floor Fitness to be a part of the Pride parade was not based on marketing. This decision was not a campaign to get more participants in class. I identify as bisexual therefore this is very much my community, my tribe, my people.
Everyone should understand what Pride festivals actually stand for. This is not a show, this is not a spectacle, this is very much a protest against hate and discrimination. Pride started as a riot in New York City. Police would frequently raid gay bars, roughly hauling away innocent people. A particular raid on June 28th, 1969 turned into a riot, followed by days of protest and violent clashes with law enforcement, known as the Stonewall riots.
We still struggle to find safe spaces in our communities free from hate and retribution. Pride festivals and parades protest this discrimination and act as a safe space for people of the LGBTQ community to come and fully be who they are without judgement. While Pride parades are fun and colorful, it is important to be educated on what it stands for.
While I identify as part of this community, I understand that the majority of Work The Floor participants identify as straight and should therefore understand what their presence at Pride represents. If you are straight and do not support the LGBTQ community, stay at home. And I mean FULLY support. It is one thing to not be hateful towards someone's identity but being a straight ally means you are someone who supports equal civil rights, gender equality, LGBTQ social movements, and challenges homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. If this does not describe you, Pride festivals really aren't for you.
Okay so now that we're all on the same page about who we are and what we represent at a Pride festival, it's time to talk etiquette. This is NOT the time to be inquisitive. Do not ask questions like "are you gay, bi or trans?" Do not ask "who is the man in your relationship?" Do not ask "have you had surgery?" I'd honestly hope you would never ask these types of questions but there are appropriate times and places to ask your gay friends about their lives and Pride is not one of them. To sum this up, just mind your business.
Furthermore, do not stereotype. It is not the time to show how "with it" you are. Do not assume all gay men watch Rupaul's Drag Race. Do not assume all drag queens are transgender. Do not assume bisexuals are going through "a phase." And don't assume all gay women love kissing straight girls when they're drunk. No one, gay or straight, fits into one box. We are all multi-cultural people with a multitude of personalities, values, interests and hobbies. To stereotype someone into what you believe is gay culture based on what you've been fed through mass media is ignorant.
Next, this is not about you. As I touched on before, this is not a show for your amusement. People are not dressed up in drag or however they choose to express their true-self for you to gawk at. Pride is not the place for you to get drunk and have a fun time with your girlfriends. It's definitely not the place for a straight birthday or bachelorette party. And Pride is not the time or place for you to be the center of attention. Step that ass back and show your support just by being present and listening. Also, don't openly be a tourist and take tons of photos of other people. If you'd like to take a photo of someone or with someone, it is always appropriate to ask first. Again, Pride is not for your entertainment.
Lastly, understand that Pride is a positive stance against discrimination and violence against the LGBTQ community. Pride is used to promote self-affirmation, dignity, equality rights, increase our visibility as a social group, build community, and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance. I urge you to be respectful and take this as an opportunity to spread impartiality and acceptance. Please use your privilege as a straight (and probably white) person to educate others on peace, love, and equality not only during Pride but continuously going forward. If you want to party today, you need to do the work everyday.
To end on a happier note, don't be overly scared of offending anyone. If you are a genuinely good person and care about the rights of others, there's nothing to worry about, just be yourself and leave all the questions and assumptions at home. Pride is also about coming together and making new friends so I encourage you to get out there and meet new people!!