And here I was bitching my little gay britches apart about how the Pride parade going downtown left a big gaping crater in Capitol Hill’s gay identity, and here Mr. Big Gay Mayor (Gayor? Head Morgay?) goes and paints all the crosswalks in big bold rainbow flavors (with glittery sparkles and everything you guys!). Hmuh.
Well, I guess that’ll shut me hell up.
Anyhooters: I was with a group of very straight (and even rather breedery) friends last week when it finally happened, “Adrian, tell us what you think about Caitlyn Jenner.”
Oh, dear me.
I figured enough time had passed since the big reveal that all the chatter had died down enough for me to escape this awkward situation. After all, is there anything more fun — or simpler — than explaining to well-meaning but bone-headed straight people who have never had to personally confront the matter that there are more than two genders? That biological sex is a social construct? That while Caitlyn’s coming-out will doubtlessly and actually save many lives and bring a much needed spotlight to trans issues, that it also overshadows the fact that most trans folk are not kajillionaires, and by and large live in crushing poverty and exclusion, sans the luxury of being (ugh) Republican (shudder — I mean really)? Not to mention that asking me, as a cisgender homo (do they even know what cisgender IS?), might not be the greatest idea, as I am not trans, and therefore it’s rather inappropriate to expect me to discuss it as an expert on behalf of the trans community in the first damn place?
Can I call a lifeline, Regis?
But I did okay, I guess. At least there were no really stupid questions. But as I was talking I caught myself saying something that I wasn’t really conscious that I was conscious of — that I am personally more aware of trans issues and even trans people — well outside of the Call Me Caitlyn Jenners and the Laverne Coxes — than I ever have been in my lifetime. Trans folk are clearly the future of the equal rights movement, and I firmly believe human social evolution as a whole. Case in point…
It’s not a very well kept secret that the Pride parade has become something of a corporate monstrosity, with large corporations (mostly booze manufacturers and Starbucks, bless their heart) well represented — perhaps way OVER represented. It’s been that way forever — so much so now it seems as normal as peanut butter and jelly and drag queen brunch.
But then we come to Seattle Trans* Pride.
Gender Justice League, who is responsible for the parade (and so much more) are having none of that nonsense. They’ve opted instead to keep their souls intact, and turn their noses up to big money interests that they believe do more harm than good to our community.
So instead of selling out, they set up a gofundme.com and left it up to the community instead. At the time of this writing, they’ve received $8,777 of their $10,000 goal! In fact, they exceeded their original goal of $8,000 so quickly and spectacularly that upped it so they could pay their performers more…
Um, hello? SOAP?
I spoke with Danni Askini, the Executive Director of GJL, and asked if the rumors I’d been hearing about them turning down big corporate money were true, specifically that they’d refused tens of thousands of dollars from the likes of Absolut and American Spirit Cigarettes.
“Yes,” Danni told me. “GJL has extensive donor guidelines about not supporting/condoning corporations with demonstrated history of discrimination against trans people or corporations that feed addiction and substance abuse in minority communities.”
Their mission statement — and values — are quite clear on the matter.
“We turned down several corporate sponsors this year from Tobacco, Alcohol, and several other “Trendy brands” — in total about $15,000 in sponsorship. The benefit of being a smaller pride event is that we can say “thanks, but no thanks,” however it also unfortunately means that we have to put a lot of work into securing smaller donor sponsorship (LBGT organizations and companies we care about) and individual donors — we have raised our goal of $8,000 from individuals and about $12,000 from businesses — hopefully we break even this year!”
“Our primary goal is to maintain the integrity of the event, particularly to ensure that our stage is a complete free speech area and void of the coercive control of people with serious money — and able to address the seriously huge needs of the Trans community. ”
“Frankly: American Spirits, Absolute Vodka, Zip Car, etc… I mean — I don’t think they really “get” what we are about anyway — they just want to get our community addicted to their products or use our community to seem “progressive” — while on Monday not caring 1 bit about the 9 trans women who have been murdered so far this year.”
If only every other Pride organization would take this example to heart.
Please come out and celebrate Trans* Pride this Friday, June 26th on Capitol Hill (gawdess knows I’ll be there, cheering like a damn fool). And if you just happen to have a few extra scheckles that ain’t working too hard and are in need of some most excellent karma indeed, you can contribute to their gofundme.