Even though this Zine of the Gay project is inspired by Pride month, we at QZAP want to make sure we look at Pride critically. Today’s Zine of the Gay is Shame on Pride! created by Abuzar in 2005. The original zine was created as a part of Queer Diversity, a community focused on the relationship of radical queers to (at the time) modern day Pride in Toronto. Though this zine is specifically focused on Pride Toronto from almost twenty years ago, the messages are still applicable and we encourage you, dear reader, to keep an eye out for racist, transphobic, sexist, or classist behavior at any Pride celebration you go to this month.
Before even giving a table of contents, the zine starts with newspaper clippings from the New York Post and New York Times recounting the Stonewall riots, reconnecting readers with the reason we have pride in the first place. After the table of contents, Abuzar addresses their readership:
Calling all Radical Queers, Trans People, Youth, Sex Workers, Poly People, Anti-Poverty Activists, & Allies:
Sick and tired of the main streaming of the “Gay Movement”?
Frustrated at being pushed out of and excluded from queer spaces?
Angry at getting kicked out of a queer community we helped create?
… If you’re a pissed off and unapologetic hooker, tranny, gender queer, radical, lived/worked on the streets, or an ally, it’s time to fight back!
They then follow what happened after Stonewall, as white gay people began to push down other sexual and gender minorities in order to assimilate into mainstream culture. Abuzar says that in their pursuit for mainstream acceptance, “It doesn’t matter how many of us are murdered, go missing, or find ourselves excluded, bashed, or beaten. The band plays on like the single minded machine that it was always meant to be.” Pride has now become another part of this single minded machine, becoming a co-opted event “that perpetuates homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexism, social classism, economic classism, polyphobia, bodyphobia, binary-dominance, sex negativity, erotophobia, ableism, ageism, anti-sexwork sentiment, systemic exclusion … in short, all of those issues that it was meant to address and fight.”
There are also other pieces within the zine that address Stonewall’s origins, the internal oppression in gay culture, and how “more acceptable” queer people “sic cops on “less acceptable” queer people at Pride.” There is also a piece on how the fight for gay marriage “dismisses and ignores the decades-long struggle of feminist movements to abolish or establish progressive alternatives to the marriage system imposed by governments and churches over previous centuries of gendered exploitation, colonization and oppression. Instead, the debate encourages non-heterosexual partners to identify the legitimacy and “equality” of their relationships as the ability for those partnerships to be “permitted” by the same legal and religious authorities which have historically dominated, exploited and excluded women from participation and decisionmaking [sic] roles.” These argumentative pieces all support the majority of the body of the zine, which is focused on alternative queer spaces at 2005 Pride Toronto.
The main point of this zine is that rather than just creating alternative spaces for queer people, we need to also actively resist the co-opting of queer spaces. The body of the zine highlights organizations offering alternative spaces and resisting the co-opting of Pride, with events such as Resist! Rovolt! Celebrate! held by Limp Fist to stand against the corporate sponsors of Pride, Whores And Dykes Unite! organized by the Sex Professionals of Canada which is a march supporting trans people, sex workers, natives, and other POC within the greater Dyke March (a politicized, corporation-free, queer alternative to Pride), as well as the events held by Queer Diversity called the Renegade Community Fair and the Protest Against The Cooptation of Pride, both of which looking to dissent against Pride in the community fair and parade. Abuzar writes about these events, saying:
We refuse to participate in Pride in a manner complicit with their oppression. We refuse to be tokenized by Pride and dissent against it’s marginalization of the queer community.
Kit Gorton is a current intern at QZAP and graduate student at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in library science and English, with focuses on archives and media studies. A rather queer Hobbit, Kit is most often seen collecting things (such as leaves, rocks, books and the like) or doting on their cat, Good Omens Written in Collaboration by Neil Gaiman and Sir Terry Pratchett.