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(en) Gay Shame - A Radical Alternative; by Mattilda

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(http://slingshot.tao.ca/)
Date Thu, 27 Jun 2002 02:24:47 -0400 (EDT)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

Gay Pride has become little more than a giant opportunity for
multi-national corporations to target-market products to gay
consumers. Major companies focus on Pride-oriented ad
campaigns, from beer and liquor companies like Budweiser,
Coors, Miller, Cuervo, Smirnoff, Skyy and Bailey?s to clothing
companies like Polo, Banana Republic, Reebok, and Macy?s,
car companies like Saab and BMW, and drug companies like
Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoWellcome, and Abbott
Laboratories. In San Francisco and many large U.S. cities, Gay
Pride is a fenced-off event, where an endless parade of floats,
from the vapid to the downright scary, marches by: gay AT&T
employees, gay Genentech employees, ?gay-friendly?
politicians like racist Mayor Giuliani of New York or
pro-gentrification Mayor Brown of San Francisco, gay
stockbrokers, gay realtors, gay cops?

Many of the companies in attendance at Pride mask
reactionary agendas in order to court the gay dollar: right-wing
Coors and Philip Morris, union-busting Budweiser, and the old
standbys-drug companies like Bristol-Myers Squibb and
GlaxoWellcome, who always choose profits over people?s lives
(especially people with AIDS). If the organizers of the Pride
Parade offer any agenda at all (sometimes they do not-last
year?s San Francisco theme was ?Queerific?), it is usually
organized along an assimilationist axis: gay marriage and
gays-in-the-military are common preoccupations. This year,
though, SF Pride has gone off the deep end by adapting
Budweiser?s advertising motto for the official theme. ?Be
Yourself-Make It a Bud? has become ?Be Yourself-Change the

Queers appalled by ?Budweiser Pride? are organizing to
confront the corporate beast with Gay Shame actions at the
June 30 SF Pride Parade. These actions will encourage people
to celebrate queer identities in ways other than buying a bunch
of crap. So many people are alienated by the consumerism and
the assimilationist agenda of ?pride,? and we call on everyone
to resist this tyranny.

Gay Pride has not always been such a spectacle of
consumption; it?s roots lie in the famous and everyday acts of
queer resistance to police brutality (Stonewall Riots, Compton
Cafeteria Riots, etc). Furthermore, since the beginning of
corporate-sponsored ?pride,? queers have resisted by various
means, from physically attacking the organizers, to blocking
elected officials from marching, to breaking into the march
with anti-consumerist messages. The first Gay Shame event
took place in 1998 in New York, organized by a collective of
queers who challenged the limiting agenda of of a gay
movement that refuses to address racism, misogyny,
heterosexism, and classism as an intrinsic part of organizing.
The free event took place at dumba, a queer household and
performance space in Brooklyn, and consisted of drag, spoken
word, and dance performances; speakers and tabling on issues
of welfare ?reform,? poverty and homelessness, the crackdown
on public sex and queer visibility, personal queer histories, and
needle exchange; vegan food; dancing and community-building.

1Since then, Gay Shame festivals of resistance have occurred
in numerous cities in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, including
San Francisco, Toronto, Stockholm, and Barcelona. These
events have taken various forms-in Barcelona, for example,
organizers blocked the parade with shopping carts.

In San Francisco, the first Gay Shame event occurred last year,
when we took over Tire Beach, a rotting industrial park on the
San Francisco Bay. We turned Tire Beach into our queer
autonomous space for the day, which included free food,
t-shirts, and various other gifts, bands, spoken word, djs and
dancing, a kidspace for children, and speakers on issues
including gentrification, U.S. colonization of Vieques, and
prison, youth, and trans activism. We encouraged people to
participate in creating their own radical queer space, and
people argued about political issues, created visual art, poured
concrete and made a mosaic, dyed hair, mudwrestled naked,
and had sex. We organized the event in less than a month, and
over four hundred people trekked out to Tire Beach to join in
the festivities.

As organizers of Gay Shame in San Francisco last year,
however, one of our main critiques was that, in spite of our
efforts to create a politicized space, many participants were
rude to the speakers and seemed uninteresting in anything
beyond partying and socializing with their friends. This year we
resolved to be more confrontational, to ensure that our
political agenda would remain clear.

Gay Shame presented the Gay Shame Awards on May 25, in
the center of the whitewashed gayborhood of the Castro. We
rewarded the most hypocritical gays for their service to the
?community,? in order to expose these evil-doers who use the
sham of ?pride? as a cover-up for their greed and misdeeds.
Hundreds of queers dressed to excess and jammed Harvey Milk
Plaza and blocked Castro Street for several hours of dangerous
glamour. Award categories included ?Making More Queers
Homeless,? ?Helping Right-Wingers Cope,? ?Best Target
Marketing,? ?Best Gender Segregation,? ?Best Racist-Ass
Whites-Only Space,? ?Exploiting Our Youth,? ?The IN
Award? (For Celebrities Who Should Never Have Come Out
in the First Place), and ?Legends? (Straight Allies for
Reactionary Gays). We presented a radical queer extravaganza,
a fun and biting critique of the reactionary gay mainstream-- in
the belly of the beast.

Gay Shame is committed to fighting the rabid assimilationist
monster of corporate gay ?pride? with a devastating
mobilization of queer brilliance. If you?d like to get involved,
call (415) 540-2947 or email gayshamesf@yahoo.com.


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