The Commercialization of Pride, and How to Combat It

This month is LGBTQIA+ Pride Month, inspired by the Stonewall Riots on June 29th that started the fight for queer civil rights.

In Albuquerque, there is a lot of stuff to do in these first few weeks – however, the major Pride Fest/Parade is a commercialized mess sponsored by T Mobile and the like. I’m not knocking it for the performing aspect – I have several friends who are performing and I am super proud of them.

But it makes me feel awkward that pride, which started as drag queens and trans women of color throwing rocks at cops, has become so… monetized?

It’s something I’ve struggled with for most of my adult queer life. On the one hand, I love Pride. Never have I felt more normal and accepted among a group of oftentimes strangers who are united by one thing: we’re all different.

On the other, I get annoyed when in order to ‘celebrate’ I have to pay $50+ to go to a parade or even a performance of a favorite queen. All these rainbow this and rainbow that, and there’s a part of me that gets so angry by the use of the struggle of queer people for profit.

However, I figured out a way to reconcile this.

I am a performer at a local bar that has been, simply put, a home away from home since January. As such, the bar has a bunch of events connected to Pride that I have been attending and encouraging people to attend, because of one specific thing: they are a local establishment.

The money raised from the few events that they charge for goes back to the community, or to the bar for improvements to make it a better place for the Albuquerque LGBTQIA+ community. The performers are more often than not allowed to keep their tips, or put them toward whatever cause they like/need to.

My point of this whole post that if you, like me, are uncomfortable with the idea of commercializing pride, but still want to celebrate, go local. Hit up your local gay bars, community centers, etc, and see what the locals have going on. Spend your money, if you’re going to, on local events that give back or support the local community. Support your local events that are free, because sometimes it costs for events to be free.

And most of all, remember those who came before us, who fought for our rights to be able to celebrate and continue the fight (because it ain’t over yet).

Happy Pride everyone.