We are pissed about corporations jumping on the Pride bandwagon to make some cash. “Rainbow capitalism” describes the process of capitalizing and gentrifying gay people and their culture through the hyper-consumerist atmosphere of market economies. Does Big Business love gay people? No! But they sure do love our money!
Essentially, Big Business exploits us, persuades the commodification of our culture to create a fierce market, and then sells it back to us – especially in June: Pride Month.
Look, I’m not big on dedicated months. I think, like with Christmas and Valentine’s Day, they are intended to boost the economy and Big Business cashes in by influencing the population when to celebrate or commemorate, creating a visual culture for that celebration or commemoration, and then selling its “flags” – and I don’t just mean the rainbow one. Christmas and Valentine’s Day also have flags – one is green and red, the other is pink and red.
I’m not religious but I celebrate Christmas because my family uses it as an excuse to share a ton of food and show that we still care by dedicating a few days to each other in December. “You can do that any time!” is only true if you can afford quality food year-round and are wealthy enough to not have to work 40+ hours a week to survive.
Christmas (and potentially other traditions like Chinese New Year and Hanukkah) are loved by the lower classes because we save up to live like royalty for a day or two. It can even be the motivation that gets us through the year. Yes, we buy presents for one another at my family’s Christmas – but if they were homemade (which they sometimes are), it wouldn’t feel like a “rip-off” because gifts aren’t that important to us.
The connection I’m making between Christmas and Pride Month is this: yes, Big Business will co-opt and exploit it because that’s what it does. That’s what happens under capitalism. If you don’t like it then attack capitalism, not gay people who want to celebrate Pride Month. Because that’s what I’m seeing this year – a lot of gay people boycotting Pride Month because of its association with rainbow capitalism.
I don’t do much for Pride, I must admit. But I don’t blame gay people for buying a rainbow flag or using June as an excuse to come out to their parents. Some people are sentimental like that. Because Pride Month is in June for a reason: to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising. Yes, the one where Black stud lesbian Stormé DeLarverie confessed to throwing the first punch at but is left out of the narrative told by “experts” who weren’t there.
Should we abandon Pride Month because rainbow capitalism has “ruined it”? No. So how do we celebrate it in ways that focus on pride and not on consumerism?
1. Research lesbian history
There might not be plentiful resources on lesbian history, that’s true. But it exists. What about Ned Katz’s book The Daring Life and Dangerous Times of Eve Adams, the story of a Jewish lesbian immigrant who ran a Tea Room in Manhatten and even wrote a book herself, called Lesbian Love? Or Joan E. Biren’s Eye to Eye: Portraits of Lesbians, a book that depicts lesbians living authentically in the 1970s? What about the lesbian love letters written by Tove Jansson, Emily Dickinson, Vita Sackville-West and Gertrude Stein? What about the butches?
All you lesbians who are more interested in a book than a boozy pride march shouldn’t feel guilty if that’s the way you wish to celebrate.
2. Make some sapphic art
…and I don’t just mean visual art. Art, to me, includes all of the creative arts: writing, music, dancing, screen, design, visual art, even DIY – create, create, create! Celebrate pride by taking in and making some lesbian art of your own!
If the books mentioned under the “research lesbian history” heading weren’t enough to inspire, then take a look at sapphic artists Gluck, Romaine Brooks, Frida Kahlo, Patricia Cronin, Jenna Gribbon and Roxana Halls to get some ideas.
3. Use it as an excuse to build a lesbian community
It’s hard. We know. Everything today is “queer” this and “queer” that – where the phallus are the lesbians? It’s so easy to get bitter and resentful, hiding away and plotting your resignation from the LGBT+ community.
The problem with technology (no I’m not a boomer), with regards to building lesbian community, is that we don’t know how to disagree anymore. We just block or unfriend or close tab if they say something we don’t like. Let me be clear: all of us are guilty of this. Not just the ones who hate us.
The necessary labor in building a community is that you are going to hear things you don’t like. You are going to be faced with women who have been conditioned into various kinds of politics. But don’t let the internet fool you – most lesbians are apolitical normies who like playing team sports and watching TV with their girlfriends. They will say the wrong thing and I think that’s beautiful, in a world where you could be fired for a politically “uneducated” one-liner.
Join a soccer club. Go to its social events. If there are no lesbians, go to another one. I promise you it won’t take long before you find one. If you suck at sports then that’s even better! The resident butch or stud can help you fine tune your skills. You’re both single? Wow! A lesbian love story that doesn’t involve dating apps infested with hetero couples looking for a third! What a bloody miracle!
4. Use it as an excuse to visit your lesbian pals
If you’re anything like me, you don’t have many strictly lesbian pals and the ones you do have are across the country or even the globe. I’m including online ones in this. It might be a bit hard with this June drawing to a close, but if you save up some money over the next year, you could even use pride month as an excuse to visit that online friend who lives overseas!
As for our IRL lesbian friends, the pandemic really got in the way of seeing each other in the flesh. Some of us lost connection with some really important buddies. Go message her now. Say “happy pride month, fuck rainbow capitalism, wanna catch up to celebrate lesbianism together?”
Pride doesn’t have to be a corporate-sponsored parade. You have a lot to be proud of.
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