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Not My Party: No Cops or Kink at Pride?

Everyone is welcome to be their true selves at Pride. . . right?
June 3, 2021

It’s Gay Pride month, a celebration for the whole gay community! Well. . . almost.

Yep, It’s pride month! But because we can never just be gay, and merry, and have nice things, this year there’s renewed drama over who and what is welcome at the big parade.

It started with New York Pride’s decision to ban uniformed police from participating. And continued with a yearly rehashing of whether kink should be allowed at Pride, with beardy socialist YouTube star Vaush being the latest argue that we should think of the children and eliminate “The gigantic f***ing block party with men in leather thongs dancing around.”

I was intrigued by the “No cops at Pride besides Mare” proposal, but overall, these efforts to sanitize what happens at Gay Pride are wrong!

In both cases, people are trying to create a sense of safety, or comfort, by preventing certain others from being themselves—at the very event that supposed to celebrate being fully oneself!

Andrew Sullivan wrote last week, about how back in the ’90s, the St. Patty’s Day Parade, or what we like to call “Straight Pride,” used to ban gay groups, including the Gay Police Officers Action League. Now, decades later, it’s the gays who are banning the very same group! Of course there are legitimate concerns about police brutality, but are you really affecting positive change by ostracizing the gay, and lesbian, and trans cops, who wanna march alongside you? The whole point of Pride is visibility. Now we’re gonna put gay cops back in the closet? How does that make sense?

The same goes for those trying to re-closet the kinksters, and the fetishists.

Come around the campfire and let me tell you a little story.

The first time I went to a Pride parade was about nine months after I’d come out of the closet. I put on my keffiyeh and some shorty-shorts and went down to DC’s 17th Street gayborhood with some friends. Now, I definitely saw some stuff there that made me a bit uncomfortable. After all, I was a Catholic school kid, and a Log Cabin Republican, and I was still working through all my internalized homophobia. But I had a drink, I got acclimated, yelled at the “God hates f*gs” weirdos to get the blood flowing, and after a while, I began to feel comfortable. And proud!

For me, going to pride was kind of reminiscent of the feeling that you get when you go to your grandma’s house. You might not be surrounded by dudes in leather thongs, but it’s warm and safe, and there’s a sense of family!

This is particularly important for gays, or trans, or nonconforming kids, who have been rejected by their family, or church, or community.

For some of them, Pride is dipping their toe in the water of this new welcoming family. That feeling of community is not gonna come from the Verizon or Lockheed Martin Pride floats.

It exists because everybody that got bullied or silenced because their orientation or gender identity know that at Pride they can be themselves, no matter who that is! CIS gay boy, or trans woman, or gender non-binary demi-sexual, or furry, or gaymer, or big gay cop! Every color of the rainbow!

So Happy Pride!

Tim Miller

Tim Miller is The Bulwark’s writer-at-large. He was previously political director for Republican Voters Against Trump, communications director for Jeb Bush 2016, and spokesman for the Republican National Committee.