Entitled and oblivious at Pride

By Christian-Sebastian Lauritsen
Private photo

Is the Pride parade embarrassing?  Pride has always had its critics, but only a few of them come from within our rainbow community – unfortunately, this seems to be slowly changing, and therefore now is a good time to remind each other what pride actually is.

When I’m out and about in our rainbow community and the conversation turns to Copenhagen Pride, I do, from time to time, come across a criticism that I find to be a prime example of being completely unaware of both one’s own privilege and history. It is entitled and oblivious.

The criticism of Copenhagen Pride goes as follows: “The pride parade is too extreme and does not reflect who I am at all.” Some even go so far as to proclaim the parade as embarrassing or even harmful to future progress.

It is a criticism that I used to hear relatively seldom, but with each new generation, it seems to be amplifying a little more, so now seems like a good time to address it properly.

Naturally what is meant by the criticism is that the parade displays a caricature of our community. The men are overly feminine, the women are overly masculine, some people are too sexual, and some people are dressed bizarrely: any version of “too much” you can think of.

The person uttering this criticism of the parade is often a white cis-gender member of the rainbow community, and before I step on too many toes let me just say that I, too, am a white cis member of our community, so I am well aware that not all white cis members subscribe to the criticism.
But to those people who do subscribe to this opinion let me just say: In my view you have completely missed the point!

Pride has to be provocative and outrageous

When people show me old pictures of past Prides with the purpose of illustrating to me that Pride did not used to be so outrageous or provocative, what they’re actually displaying is a lack of history.

Pride is a provocation and an outrage, and it always has been. It used to take no more than a sign with the words “I’m proud to be gay” to provoke and cause a stir, but fortunately that is no longer the case. It takes quite a lot more than that to provoke most people today, but we nonetheless must keep doing it!

Today, only few people are outraged by homosexuality because most people have been exposed to it and gotten used to it, but that is a privilege we homosexuals, unfortunately, do not share with all members of the rainbow community.

That being said, I would like to add that even this acceptance of homosexuals is only superficial.

For many years, a gay guy in movies or on TV was always portrayed completely asexually –almost genderless – as the female protagonist’s best friend, while lesbians have always been either hypersexualized or been a comedic element; all done to make the heteronormative audiences feel more comfortable – especially the men – but there is no f@%king way we’re doing that at pride!

So, the question becomes: What provokes outrage today? Trans rights, being “too much”, using non-binary pronouns, and speaking openly about kink are some of what spring to mind.

At Pride we provoke outrage to protest the boxes the heteronormative society has put us into.

Gay men can be sexual beings!
Lesbians are not just people from straight men’s porn!
Trans people are not flawed!
Some people are “too much” and they’re allowed to be!
Non-binary people don’t disappear because you ignore them!
People have kinks and that is 100% okay!

At Pride we stand shoulder to shoulder and the people who provoke the general public the most must be in the spotlight.

Let me use myself as an example: In my daily life I don’t present very feminine – nor very masculine – but when I go out, I like to play around with my gender expression. I think it is exciting and festive.

Here’s another privilege I’ve got: I can take it off. This privilege of mine is also not shared by all members of our community.

For these reasons, when it is Pride, if you hand me a hypersexual outfit I’ll put it on and dance around in it in the middle of the street! Alternatively, if you give me a feather boa, an ostrich skirt, and a pair of high heels, I’ll party and provoke in that instead – even if it doesn’t represent who I am in my daily life.
It’s not about me.

Why cause outrage?

When I was a young teenager who lived in the middle of nowhere with my family, I was often teased about my femininity – even though I tried my best to suppress it. There was only very little room for femininity in boys back then.

One day my family and I are sitting together on the sofa watching TV, and suddenly Gustav Salinas appears on the screen in the TV-show ‘Dagens Mand’, and though there were many other people on that TV-show, it was Gustav who grabbed all the attention. Why? Because he was too much! He was outrageous.

Gustav was criticized a lot for portraying a caricature of a gay man, and even for hindering our fight for acceptance.
Does that sound familiar?

Now fast-forward 5 years: Gustav has been famous for some time, I have come out, I’ve stopped suppressing my femininity so I’m more feminine than I’ve ever been, and I’m beginning to go out partying in this tiny town in Nordfyn, but something peculiar has happened.
When the boys hear that I’m gay and they experience my femininity, I keep getting the same response: “As long as you’re not a Gustav-type of gay guy then I don’t mind.” Time and time again this is the response I get and it illustrates my point so well: intolerance often hits the “extremes”. If everyone is between 170 cm and 175 cm tall, then 185 cm is extremely tall, the same way my femininity was extreme before their new frame of reference. They got a new extreme point. That extreme point needs to be pushed as far as possible.

So why cause outrage? Because outrage creates space and inclusion.

Back in the day it only took a sign to cause outrage, but every time we cause outrage, we push the definition of what is considered “abnormal” or “too much”, and thereby we expand the box that the heteronormative society call “normal.”

That’s why we should cause outrage!

So okay, you don’t see yourself reflected in the Pride parade – good for you. You are no longer outrageous, and that is a privilege. Others have caused outrage on your behalf!

When it’s Pride, you should use that privilege and give back to the rainbow community, and you can start by dressing up in leather and latex and dance along to ‘I Am What I am” with the rest of us!

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