As you can probably tell from the rainbows that have me looking for gold at the end of every Facebook comment thread, Pride Month is upon us. In D.C., however, Saturday’s annual Pride Parade was disrupted by extremist protesters who seemed intent on ruining everyone else’s fun.
The protest group, which calls itself “No Justice No Pride,” issued a press release accusing the Capital Pride Alliance of having “ignored concerns of queer, trans, and two-spirit communities in DC regarding its collusion with entities that harm LGBTQ2S people.”
Yeah, I had to Google “two-spirit,” too. It’s a term used by Native Americans to describe gay, lesbian, bisexual and gender-variant individuals in their communities.
No Justice No Pride protesters blocked the parade route near 15th and P streets here in Washington by chaining themselves together in an attempt to force the Capital Pride Alliance to sever its ties to “deeply problematic corporate sponsors” and to “end its endorsement of the [D.C. Metropolitan Police Department] and other law enforcement agencies.”
The parade was quickly rerouted and no arrests were made.
Many conservative outlets responded with unrestrained glee at the prospect of the great leftist identity politics serpent swallowing its own tail. Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire ran with “WATCH AND LAUGH: Black Lives Matter Protesters STOP Gay Pride Protest,” which is a great headline if you like your news to tell you what to do.
We’ve certainly seen similar tensions before. When most of the left was busy heaping praise on Caitlyn Jenner, prominent feminist writer and documentary filmmaker Elinor Burkett wrote an op-ed for the New York Times arguing that “[p]eople who haven’t lived their whole lives as women…shouldn’t get to define us.” Later, black feminist writer Ijeoma Oluo forcefully rejected former Spokane NAACP head Rachel Dolezal’s claim to be “trans-racial.”
In both cases, an activist was pushing back against an attempt to forcibly broaden and co-opt her movement. Men don’t get to be women and white girls don’t get to be black, they argued, and to accept that they do cheapens everything that women and African-Americans have fought for and won.
Saturday’s confrontation between No Justice No Pride and the parade attendees they defied is only the latest example of the same controversy.
This anonymous man, presumably gay and middle-aged, rejected the demonstrators’ assertion that the gay community had no right to celebrate Pride unless it also adopted the radical, anti-corporate, anti-police agenda of the most extreme fringes of the Black Lives Matter movement.
He was right to do so. The corporate sponsorship and police protection that the Capital Pride Parade enjoys illustrate the high level of public acceptance that the gay community has gained over the last several decades. Even under the Trump administration, which so many bemoan as a step backwards, LGBT individuals enjoy far more legal rights and suffer far less cultural stigma than during Bill Clinton’s presidency.
The protesters, however, were not willing to allow the community at large to celebrate those gains. Instead, they condemned the Capital Pride Alliance for forcing people of color and two-spirit members of the LGBT+ community to “celebrate Pride… alongside the Police [sic] who kill us” and the “[c]orporations that desecrate Native land, manufacture weapons and support private prisons.”
The principle of intersectionality asserts that issues of gender, sexuality, race, and class are intertwined and that oppressed groups should work together on each other’s behalf. The protesters abused this principle by demanding rather than requesting the help of the Pride marchers.
In a twisted application of Martin Luther King’s famous declaration that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” No Justice No Pride attempted to co-opt the entire movement by forcibly imposing a radical leftist ideology on people who were under no obligation to espouse it.
There is no reason that a proud gay man can’t also support the police. The Capital Pride Parade signifies many things, but leftist groupthink should not be one of them.