Pride – let’s all be very nice, shall we?

In this month’s guest blog, Philip Patston shares his thoughts on this year’s Pride, and reflects on the importance of discomfort and protest, in creating balance in our celebrations of diversity and inclusion.

Michael Stevens writes on that Pride “is designed to be celebratory, fun, and inclusive. It’s not built for anger and protest.” This in response to last year’s No Pride In Prisons protest at the parade, against the treatment of transgender prisoners, in which one protester’s arm was broken by parade security.

rainbow-flag-smiley-smSo, Pride is about including people, but only if they’re nice and fun and happy. For people who aren’t, Michael suggests a separate space — sounding kind of like a time out or detention for naughty queers. He’d even come and watch.

I wonder if next year at Waitangi, there’ll be a separate space for Māori who are aggrieved by political actions like signing the TPPA. I wonder if someone will declare Waitangi as celebratory, fun, and inclusive, except if you’ve got a concern for other people.

“It used to be, as someone remarked to me the other day, that we had nutcase Christians protesting at our events, telling us we were evil sinners on the road to hell,” Michael laments. “Now we have members of our own community…”

And this, unfortunately, is the rub with emancipation. When marginalised people get the big “thumbs up” from the majority (law reform, human rights, marriage equality), there’s a tendency to tell everyone to be good and quiet and nice, so we can all fit in and not be noticed.

That, in my opinion, is a steaming pile of shit.

Michael’s right — “We’re not one community and our various communities are complex…” Indeed, they are. And that’s exactly why Pride is still political — because now we’re not all fighting the nasty hairy majority monster. We’re now doing the complex, deeper work of looking at ourselves, at our own, and making sure we’re all ok, not just those who pass, or fit in. Now it’s time to fight for those who belong to sub-cultures of our communities, whom we neglect and forget, while we celebrate the fun we’re having, being free.

In “Sacred Anger and the Power of Hard Love” Gary Z McGee writes:

“Here’s the thing: life was not meant to be comfortable. Sure, discover comfort where you can, but you’ll never grow if you don’t get uncomfortable every once in a while. Just like our culture will forever stagnate and degenerate if we don’t challenge how comfortable and contained it keeps us, especially when those comforts are systematically destroying the world. Like Anais Nin wrote, ‘Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.’ Let’s choose not to fail. Let’s choose not to give into this kind of death. Let’s choose courage instead.”

Courage. Leadership. Grappling with the discomfort. That’s our job now. That’s what we need to be proud of.

Pride for pride’s sake is deeply narcissistic — “Look at us! Aren’t we wonderful? We can fit in like everyone else. Go away if you’re here to remind us that some of us are still suffering, abused, maligned.”

Don’t make us uncomfortable. We’d rather stagnate in our happiness.

Pride is a great thing. It’s a confidence in who we are. But too much pride is ugly. It becomes arrogance.

Diversity and inclusion need to be held with a delicate balance. Unbalanced, inclusion becomes assimilation and colonisation. Diversity becomes coloured on the outside and monotone on the inside.

Unbalanced, pride comes before a fall — someone else’s fall. And that’s nothing to be proud about.


This blog was originally posted on  It has been reposted on DPSN with permission.


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