The Value of Pride

45 years after the first Pride march, Gay Pride still faces backlash, not only from those who don’t belong to the LGBT community, but also from within. Credits: Guillaume Paumier via CreativeCommons

Dubbed one of this summer’s hit tracks, Demi Lovato’s, ‘Really Don’t Care,’ was initially intended to be a break up song. While filming the music video, however, the pop sensation realised that the most important message of the song, as the title aptly conveys, is empowerment. This naturally drew Demi to Los Angles Pride, which she saw as the epitome of liberalism, and freedom from bullying, judgement and harassment.

The Pride event, however, is deeply rooted in the historical justice of the LGBT movement – one that stems back roughly 45 years back when the United States’ landscape was one fraught with anti-LGBT discourse and violent discrimination from authorities themselves.

In spite of the difficulties, on November 2, 1969, the first pride march was proposed by the resolution of the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organisations (ERCHO), which resolved:

 ‘That the Annual Reminder (Pride Marches), in order to be more relevant, reach a greater number of people, and encompass the ideas and ideals of the larger struggle in which we are engaged—that of our fundamental human rights—be moved both in time and location.’

The date was set. The people would celebrate Pride on the last Saturday of June. This would be the watershed moment for LGBT rights.

45 years after the first Pride march, Gay Pride still faces backlash, not only from those who don’t belong to the LGBT community, but also from within. Gay Shame, a movement within the LGBT community seeks to halt Gay Pride, which they feel has become less radical since the 1980s, after marches began to drop the themes of ‘liberation’, and ‘freedom’, and instead sought pride and integration within the community. To Gay Shame members, radical expression, counter-culture ideologies and avant-garde arts should lead the LGBT movement; therefore, the LGBT should not integrate into mainstream culture, but should rather be more radical and ‘different’.

The rise of such backlashes, however, could threaten the LGBT movement itself. Not only does this foster disunity within the movement, but also, its radicalism and counter-cultural-ism threatens to alienate people who are in the closet: people who are on the cusp of coming out. These people may want to come out, but are afraid of scrutiny, judgment and alienation from the rest of society and from their current communities. If Gay Shame seeks isolation rather than normalisation, simply because they think the latter is too ‘mainstream’, then they risk alienating those who aren’t as confident and ‘loud’. They risk sending the wrong message to those who want to come out: that they must subscribe to a radical lifestyle in order to be truly ‘free’ and gay.

Furthermore, let us not forget that members of the LGBT community complete a spectrum — not everyone wants to embrace radical expression. If movements such as Gay Shame try to radicalise what it means to be LGBT, they may consequently alienate the very voices they need for the larger movement. Consequently, the LGBT movement may see its current progress put to waste.

On the other hand, Gay Pride, rather than Gay Shame, reminds us that the fight is not yet over, and the LGBT movement still needs to take strides to secure its battle for equality. It seeks to inspire people. Through the freedom and unrepressed nature of the parade, it shows the message that the LGBT community is filled with ‘fun’, and that despite all the hardship and discrimination, as Demi Lovato aptly puts it, we ‘really don’t care’.

 Mariella Salazar 

Mariella Salazar studies history at the University of Cambridge. Is also Features co-Editor at, “Get Real.”

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One thought on “The Value of Pride

  1. And what of transgender, asexual, and bisexual people who still don’t enjoy the same freedom and security as gay cis men? Radical progress is still necessary for them. It’s telling that this article only talks of “gay pride” and “gay shame” and not the rest of LGBT.

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