So, this is your first Beirut Pride. Wonderful! Let’s talk.
| By Lynn Darwich
Mentioning the civil war does not localize Pride
Localizing Pride would entail breaking the very framework through which Pride emerges in the first place and building something else entirely. For one week, we are invited to unite under a rainbow and check our problems at the door. Forget about your parents getting evicted, all these strenuous water bills, the sheer impossibility of actually planning to live a decent and sustainable life in Lebanon. No, the issue is that you are gay and that there is homophobia around you.
Putting a positive spin on Beirut Pride does not make it less harmful
While its organizers insist that it is a positive celebration of gayness — a culmination of the gayest cause (with a sprinkle of LBTQness) — it still largely speaks to a middle upper class gay audience and does not address intersecting struggles. This is a problem because, as Audre Lorde says, we do not live single-issue lives. Is there space to talk about race at Beirut Pride? Class issues? How about challenging normativity in our society instead of constantly asking for acceptance?
“Coming out” and visibility are valued and seen as signs of progress and civility. To be a straight ally becomes a liberal badge of honor. “Coming out” and visibility are not signs of progress though, and they are also not the only strategies to survive and thrive in this world. We need to rethink the value we place on visibility, especially as we witness the illusion of liberal democracy collapsing and shifting globally towards the right.
Pride and IDAHOT are constructs that erase the interconnectedness of different struggles
For years, many of us sat down in meetings across groups/organizations and argued about Pride and IDAHOT for hours on end. Our friends in Palestine have written a useful critique around it. Please read it.
We haven’t always organized in the form of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Lebanon’s most rad feminist queer and trans actions were far from perfect, but they happened with very little money, and a lot of people power and collective organizing. This can still happen.
Why are we celebrating corporations that are building their social capital and making profits off our shoulders? Who next, banks? The police? Who has our backs when we’re not two cute girls looking out into the ocean?
Some governments co-opt movements
They use a rainbow flag and a pot of gold to draw us in and proceed to use our struggles to naturalize and instigate racialized violence and exploitation near us. This is called gay imperialism. It’s a thing governments do. We should not fall for it, and yet, most NGOs take pots of gold from these embassies.
Some of the newer NGOs have been known to profit off the oppressions of gay and trans people and are now speaking loudly in their names. They have million dollar budgets. Why do we let this happen? What is this silence? We should research their work. Ask them where they get their funds. Ask them how their budgets are allocated. Ask them about the sex exploitation rumors they are associated with.