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The Importance of Alternative Pride: An Op-Ed from Vancouver Art and Leisure

Thursday 26th, July 2018 / 09:39
By Matt Troy

Photo by Chase Porter

VANCOUVER – LGBTQ people have always been outsiders. Strangers, too. To many, we are The Queers. For centuries, we were never trendy, much less celebrated.

For too long, our bodies have been criminalized. We had to gather in clandestine spaces, where we could express ourselves, free from the prying eye of bigots, bureaucrats, bullies, and bluecoats. We had to hide because our activities were seen as immoral, too sexual, and not conducive to western values of procreation, family, and Christianity.

On the backs of those who came before us, we have arrived at a time when we are no longer feared, but celebrated. Mainstream culture has completely embraced “pride.” From concrete actions to meaningless marketing gestures – all of which would have been completely unthinkable only a few generations ago – everyone is cashing in on pride. For most companies, the simple act of including a pride flag is a “small but meaningful” gesture that does not require investing money, training staff, or challenging themselves to question their commitment to the queer community. From banks to gyms to straight nightclubs, companies actively celebrate our success despite not having been there to support us in our struggles.

With the commercialization of queerness has come sanitization. There has been an erasure of “sexual” from “homo.” Legal same-sex marriages falsely told us that our families were accepted, painting us with the broad brush of heterosexualism and all the conventionality it entails. Homogenization of queer subculture into mainstream culture has left an important part of our story untold, even as the dominant culture pretends to celebrate it.

Photo by Samuel Olsen

We fuck. We have tons of dirty sex. We do it all over. We are not props on your mission for inclusivity. We are not simply men who happen to be gay – we have raging boners for each other and we stick it in people’s asses. Celebrate that. Put that on your Facebook profile photo. Celebrate that our difference is actually a good thing; we don’t seek to become like heterosexuals or follow in the centuries of heterosexual folly, procreation, war, and destruction. With our queerness, we have risen to the highest platforms of artistic achievement in music, literature, aesthetics, and philosophy. We seek to spread our otherness, our differentness, and to provide a platform that is uniquely homosexual, transgender, and non-binary. We celebrate our bodies, unmediated and uncensored, free from heterosexual cooption, cultural theft, and exploitation.

Vancouver Alternative Pride Festival is a grass-roots artist-led music and art festival celebrating important LGBTQ artists, organized by LGBGT artists on our own terms. Taking place over five days, we present unique and diverse events all over Vancouver, from mystical gardens to breath-taking city vistas to grimy underground after-hours and out-of-this world main events, including sex on site to uncensored radical art, all while raising money for Vancouver queer charities. We do not accept any contributions from the state or government gatekeepers. We are not condoned by the Vancouver Pride Society or in collaboration with the City of Vancouver. We do not work with any corporations who exploit queer communities for financial gain. We are only funded by you, the people. Our spaces have always been contested. Our bodies have been legislated. Our culture has been moralized. For this reason, we make our own spaces, on our own terms, because it is essential to our survival. We cherish the underground. We hang the pride flag high and celebrate our version of an independent Alternative Pride.

Alternative Pride takes place from August 1-6. Tickets are available at http://leisure.events

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