Op-ed by Ryan Gierach, West Hollywood, California One of the more fascinating phenomenon to spring out of the country’s right wing ascendancy in local and state politics is the eagerness to spout self-serving or ignorant positions lacking any semblance to facts.
Who will forget that Representative Todd Akin, a Missouri congressman running as his party’s nominee for the US Senate, said in 2012 that, “from what I understand from doctors” women’s bodies reject pregnancies that resulting from rape.”If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Now we get a front row seat to watch a misguided local dyspeptic beat his pair of rented mules while ignoring some essential facts – alcohol and Gay Pride Last week I spotted an article about West Hollywood’s annual CSW’s Los Angeles LBTQ Gay Pride Parade and Festival. The position? CSW’s “only goal’ is to “throw a pretty boozy party” over the two official days it runs. He compared the festival’s two 12 hr. day-long fair-like activities with the city’s 40-day long celebration of culture and art called One City One Pride, a public/private partnership developed by full-time city staffers to put on a hodge-podge of events in settings across the city. Wait, that sounds like fun. Fun times 40, or 40 parties! If they don’t serve wine there, and free wine (with cheese and/or kebab sticks) , not a soul would show up. Well, maybe people who take interest in culture and art and highbrow stuff like that. You sure wouldn’t find anything like that at Pride, because the only people CSW wants to attract are lushes who drink themselves so sodden they must eventually cling to the sod to make certain they don’t fall off of it. It makes me wonder about his own, brief experience here in West Hollywood. He came to town with a publishing background and a few hundred thousand dollars to set up a publication through which he could hold the city, its non-profits and businesses to account.
He has been damning about virtually everything the city or its important organizations accomplish, or try to, and he applauds only individual (and usually, iconoclastic) behavior. This time, comparing the city to CSW, he comes up with a different metric altogether. The city is the beacon of light to the dark recesses of CSW’s benighted efforts. “The contrast is stark…” he writes. “[WeHo has chosen to] educate while celebrating the LGBT community’s contributions to modern culture and the ongoing fight domestically and internationally for LGBT rights. “Christopher Street West has decided to throw a party.” He apparently dislikes other people enjoying themselves. I know it sure irks me. He informs us that we need stop drinking so much expensive beer that we spend next month’s rent and need to close one eye to keep other people from splitting in two. Apparently one or the other – activity is somehow lacking in, well, pride-making. He applauds the gallery showings, the lecture hall seminars, the author book signings, readings and meet and greets. They all sound like oodles of fun, and I suppose Mr. Scott presumes that people will enjoy themselves more at these city arts and culture events than they will at Pride. Has he asked them? All kidding aside (because I hate kidding!), I ran across some fun facts about the weekend that LA’s LGBT Gay Pride in West Hollywood takes place. If you don’t like drinking only to excess, you might consider attending this festival instead of the one Henry Scott describes. RIOT I: From The Stonewall Riots in 1969 to the release of Pussy Riot members in Russia in 2013, the queer civil rights movement has seen many transformations, victories and losses across the varied generations of modern LGBTQ history. How have these generations informed one another? How do they differ? What is the bridge between the two? How can a stronger bridge be built?” To see this fascinating mind-sharpener, to give the ideas of the gay civil rights movement around the world and through history some serious thought, all you need to do is – WHAT? Go to PRIDE?! I shouldn’t queer any of the real Pride experience for you, so if sensitive, stop reading. But if you are expecting a sloppy drunk, barfin’ and pukin’ party and instead run across an exotic erotic fetish fest inside the Pride grounds, or happen upon a new feature called “Sizzle,” where guests are encouraged to let loose with classic carnival games or take a leap on the Velcro wall, prove your strength or just grab some cotton candy, well, you’ve been squeezed. Darn it, those persnickety facts slip in through the tiniest cracks. After setting up his scarecrow, Mr. Scott posits a solution to the existential threat he has created. He has decided that West Coast Prides that focus first on re-gifting the festival’s proceeds to less fortunate local agencies hold that answer. He presented anecdotal factoids as evidence of their civic-mindedness and WeHo Pride’s profligacy Long Beach Pride, he says, “sees its mission as also supporting other LGBT groups…” giving “donations of $50,000 to seven local organizations.” San Francisco Pride is better yet because they give more money; they gave out “grants of $143,000 to over 100 grantees,” in 2012. To Mr. Scott, who entitled his op-ed “What’s the point of Gay Pride:” all that Los Angeles Pride gives is tens of thousands of hang-overs each year. He has obviously taken what amounts to Editorial writing 101, so has laid out his plan for bringing LA’s Gay Pride into alignment with his sense of rectitude and right action. (If the founders of the Gay Movement were so judgmental and rigid, well, we would have had the same vicious infighting between activist factions that we saw before Pride began and that the annual Pride affair papers over.) Here is his list of shoulds. He believes that “CSW should consider…” the relative “impact of a parade down the main street of the gayest city in America have on advancing LGBT rights?” He said Martin Luther King left the softness of his Atlanta home to march where conflict was highest.
Why should CSW consider taking the parade to, say, Lynchburg, Virginia? He complains about the cost of throwing our bacchanalia, but imagine the expense of doing without the event here so as to conduct a cultural incursion into the lion’s den. Or perhaps he wants CSW to import some straight allies? Hmmm… We did found Pride, along with New York City. We know something about speaking truth to power. To Mr. Scott, providing a safe space for the free exchange of unique cultural ideas in an immersive cultural setting that only a handful of attendees can say they experience more often than twice a year is meaningless. The next question he asks is absurd on its face because the premise fails to apply. “Should LA Pride be structured as a fund-raiser instead of a party?” It is not only “a party.” CSW’s Pride IS a way for local organizations to reach out to the community, obtain contact information for action items and offering information about services offered. Every single non-profit with a presence at Pride will accept donations. Anyone attending Pride and hanging out at those booths who “doesn’t notice that” is practicing willful ignorance. Maybe they SHOULD pay attention to facts. “Should LA Gay Pride raise money for gay organizations in the rest of the world?”
The very first dollar made available after our local needs are met could go to others in need in far-off foreign lands. But that is not how community works, really. Barn raisings in the American frontier did not happen when people from another state made it by for a visit. Would you go to an event where no one got tipsy and you were required to give money to people you will never meet to raise capital to fight oppressive societies whose time for opening up to Western ideas of sexuality has not yet come? Or would you like to do some dancing, eat some crazy truck food, drink a few beers, do some gay shopping, info gathering and service snooping so that when you need your dogs groomed you know whom to call. His next Should? “Should LA Pride acknowledge that pride in one’s sexual orientation isn’t a once-a-year thing? Why not a series of educational and cultural events throughout the year that take advantage of the LA Pride brand and show that we LGBT people are about more than partying? Once again, his question is based on a false premise and solution fails to fit into the fundamental concept of an annual festival, namely that big splashy attention getting events get attention, whereas scattershot low intensity events tend to, well, disperse into the ether. Mr. Scott says that he feels coming up to his standards will, “take a lot of work, and it’s not at all clear that the current leadership of CSW is up for it,” bit he urges them to waste no time coming into compliance. I wonder if he knows that CSW is a volunteer organization that relies on volunteer board members’ service to foster the institution. Just wondering. I think people should wonder about stuff like that. One thing, though, that I need not wonder. I am certain that attending Pride seldom results in pregnancy.