State of Our Unions

By Karen Hall

This year's annual CNY Pride Festivities will begin Saturday, June 9 in front of Syracuse City Hall at 11 am with the raising of the Rainbow flag, immediately after which will begin a parade through the streets of downtown Syracuse, ending at the Festival in Everson Plaza. Food, beverages, entertainment and vendors will help make the festival an all-day event.

Many LGBT peace-loving queers and allies will enjoy a day in the (hopefully) sun…but I confess, I won't be among them. Like any old-school lesbian, I have my "issues." Wrestling with your issues should be the showcase event in the lesbian Olympics, and I've always been a fan of contact sports.

Please, though, don't turn the page just yet as I'm not going to burden you with all my issues…I'm just going to mention one: why do we march?

I feel that the answer to the question, "Why do we march?" says everything about the state of the LGBT movement. When I went to my first June gathering in 1984, about a thousand folks marched and shouted through Columbus, Ohio city streets and then made political speeches on the state capital house lawn. At the end, we danced to Gloria Gaynor's rendition of "I am what I am" and then we left. I would call this event a political march and rally. There were no concession stands and as far as the common participant could tell, queer folks made no concessions that day.

Today's national pride events are different. From my perspective at least, the focus has shifted from politics, marching and demonstrations to celebration. While celebration is important and deserved, celebrating in 2007 makes me feel uncomfortable. Liberation, sexual or otherwise, is far from won and there's plenty to educate, agitate and organize about.

I long for the brazen anti-marriage queers to line up to chant, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, into the kitchen we won't go!" or "2, 4, 6, 8 just look what marriage did for straights!" I want to line up with the anti-militarist queer street theater group who will perform their one act burlesque, "We're asking and you bet we're telling!" And I want to hear the tones of the anti-globalization marching band as they blow their self-written street beat, "Keep Your Nikes in Your Closet".

I know, I know, the esteemed Emma Goldman said herself, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution." So I say to myself, "Lighten up, girl. It's just one day. Dance a little." But that lovable belligerent dyke in my head spittles back, "I ain't dancin' in front of a beer tent and a bunch of vendors selling rainbow tchotchkes made in China."

What can I say, I am what I am…

Karen Hall frequently writes for the PNL but more often harumphs and spittles political diatribes in the privacy of her own home