Pride, Portland & Problematics

I’ve had an increasingly wonky relationship with “Pride” Season the older I get. It’s gotten more complicated with the public facing weight of Vinyl DJing. There’s few instances in terms of intersectionality that someone Black, under 50, Queer identified actually spins 1960’s Soul Music. Over the last few years that’s lead to calls to dust off grooves for LGBT focused events during the months of June.

Often, though, “Pride” events are dictated by those who have the most societal clout. Often that’s (‘attractive’) white gay men (of economic privilege) or a combination of identities interrelated. The problem with those identities is that they’re the most attached to patriarchal power plays than any under our supposed community ‘rainbow’ than others. Most often that means, under capitalism, those with the most social, and those seeking out the most financial capital, will obscure the truth to keep the money rolling.

I don’t know if there’s anything very ‘proud’ about that.

This afternoon, It came to my attention that a DJ gig at Hotel deLuxe that was being marketed as a Portland Pride event I was to co-spin at was to be hosted at a hotel that’s part of a chain that repeatedly has made contributions to right wing political causes, including a $1 Million donation to Trump’s Inauguration.

A tab over, the venue contact, an African American CIS Gay Male, just sent a cancellation email not outlining the reasons why the event was cancelled. I think that’s the most upsetting thing for me. I’ve noticed, especially with Gay Men, a tendency to ignore some real harsh realities about the evils they’re willing to ignore to “celebrate” (and quite frankly profit off of) the season. It’s really super disheartening to see someone LGBT of color work for what is obviously one of those outright evil (compared to covertly evil) corporations as I try to shake my disgust with being even momentarily attached to that….

…As I try to reason the desires for someone POC in Portland longing to fit in, and make some very dangerous decisions to become a part of not only mainstream “gay” society, but make a way that seems “safer” in an environment that’s long been hostile and consumptive to your existence. I’ve not been joking when I’ve said living in Portland is like living in Get Out: The TV Series and these past few hours prove why I have to satirize my life as an ongoing horror movie TV series to make it through another day here. I write all this with all honesty, in reaction to the continued justification and opaque nature that we construct concepts of pride for profit. I have pretty much no choice to walk away from money I could really use because that money, the space, and the “exposure” comes with the reality that it would be co-signing on all of the hatred that is a part of our societal moment right now.

It saddens me that someone sits in an office each day, within a similar intersectional identity as I do, and continues ignore the reality they live in. But I truly find that’s part and parcel of being Queer in Portland, the lack of motivation to change, to challenge comfort and analyze how individual decisions towards complacency grow into macro paralysis that actively kills community. I think of a friend whose work admonishes white people of the PNW to come get their people. I can’t help but also come get my people as well, there’s no reason not to do better. There’s truly nothing proud about having a party within the walls that seek to collapse onto us and kill us. Think about where you dedicate your time, resources and energy this season. I truly hope, as June unfolds further, you’re looking at how your pride is inclusive of lifting up others and not compromising on your highest beliefs that our life purpose is to grow.

Hopefully you’ll find safe spaces when all of these parties are over.


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