Right now I should be writing a paper for grad school. Instead I am focused on my disappointment in Pride St. Louis, Inc. and the role they've played in single handedly making this the most capitalistic pride we have had thus far by deciding to charge five dollars for entry to the festival.
“Community Proud” is this year’s slogan coined by Pride STL. What does that mean when you’re asking for profit from the community you serve? Capitalism is a virtue of self interest. Has capitalism ever been a safe word? No, because it promotes greedy propaganda that only serves those who choose to have their labels, slogans, and goods pushed onto others. Those who fought for the freedom to be their authentic selves (primarily trans folx and people of color.) Those folx every year who are community members pushed to the back of the parade to make space for the sponsors that should be backing them up and propelling them forward.
Here are some questions I ask Pride STL to evaluate. Who will be affected the most by charging for the festival and who are you unconsciously singling out? Pride STL, for one, is definitely not thinking of our marginalized family members who would think of attending the festival.
Let me guess, maybe its for the trans folx, and queer and trans people of color who have difficulty finding housing, jobs, and sources of basic survival.
What about those folx who can’t find a shelter to sleep in safely because of their gender identity, but could relax in the park and listen to music in a public space with people who have at least one thing in common with them?
Is it the queer youth, some who have mediocre jobs and many who don’t that you’re welcoming with open arms and wallets?
What's five dollars to these folx?
What's five dollars to someone who simply had one less thing to worry about in their life?
Really what is five dollars to Pride STL if they are offering unlimited vouchers through designated organizations (mine included) for as many people who need them. If there is a need for folx to request vouchers that should have been the first clue that this was not the best idea. I personally think it’s a power move and a way to further alienate those with economic inequality.
To those of you, family, who say it’s just five dollars, I dare you to stop and check your privilege and think less about what you do have and more about what others may not. Or maybe just think that this event should not be for profit. That queerness, gayness, bi-ness, transness should not be bought and advertised. Where is the true support for the LGBTQ community and can it be bought with five dollars from the community, or isn’t that what sponsors are for (because there are 364 more days in the year as well)?
So, let's keep charging people for the VIP tent if they want to feel special, but let our community keep it’s five dollars in their pocket.
Lady Ashley Gregory
Lead Organizer, QTPOC:STL
MTUG Board Member