LGBTQ+ Pride and Prejudice YIMBY


Image of twitter user @bubbathefish posted 6/18/22

By Mat Wahlström

June is Pride Month, commemorating the Stonewall Riots in June 1969, when lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and other sexual and gender non-conforming (LGBTQ+) people fought back against police violence and oppression of State.

Considered the official start of the “gay rights” movement, Pride is all about visibility – which is why the main event of every Pride celebration is a parade.

But since everything is co-opted under capitalism, June is also the month when companies release rainbow versions of their logos, in the hopes that this move will get them noticed and hopefully result in more sales or favorable brand awareness.

The marketing of Pride has been a contentious topic for years, with Pride committees regularly facing criticism over the extent to which they have, or appear to have, “sold themselves”.

Large corporations swell the ranks of Pride parades with contingents and floats that are often more about marketing than solidarity. And it’s no wonder: Pride parades in many cities are often the biggest annual civic events.

As Pride parades and festivities have grown larger and more complicated, the groups that organize them often begin to behave more and more like businesses. So perhaps that’s to be expected when they’re not looking too closely at who’s willing to shell out the hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in entry fees demanded of parade attendees and festival exhibitors.

This despite the fact that many companies that sponsor and present Pride events donate millions to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians. (One of them, mayor and Circulate San Diego favorite Deloitte, gave more than $840,000 last year to political action campaigns with a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign. )

Since the 1970s, we’ve heard of the term “green washing,” meaning companies or groups claiming eco-friendly initiatives that are actually harmful to the environment.

Likewise, it is a “rainbow wash,” claiming acceptance of LGBTQ+ people to impose a layer of legitimacy on policies or positions that are either hostile or irrelevant to any real benefit. of those who identify themselves as such.

And in the name of developer interests, those who describe themselves as YIMBY are appropriating buckets of it.

In 2008, a “Legalize Gay” campaign benefited organizations fighting for the repeal of Prop 8.

In 2018, YIMBY Dems of San Diego appropriated it, creating buttons with the tag, “Legalize housingunder a rainbow silhouette of buildings, to support their lobbying in Sacramento.

Also in 2018, social media exploded with posts of the slogan “Be Gay, Do Crime”, which “was pretty much adopted as an unofficial slogan during San Francisco Pride” that year.

A few days ago, a city councilor for the homeless and a homosexual seized on this slogan to sell t shirts with the phrase “Build houses, ban cars, be gay” – with all proceeds going to non-hosted bike advocacy organizations or LGBTQ+ causes.

It’s a variation of the “No real Scotsman” fallacy, or appeal to purity.

Here’s how it works: A person identifies as LGBTQ+. This person endorses a program unrelated to sexual or gender identity, such as YIMBY. But then this program is claimed as pro-LGBTQ+ *because* this person endorses it. Therefore, anyone who disagrees with or opposes this program must either be anti-LGBTQ+ or not themselves.

Just look at how many of our local elected officials identify as LGBTQ+ and proclaim that their pro-YIMBY agenda is all about “fairness” rather than enrichment. As has been pointed out in previous articles, the YIMBY program is simply pro-development and antithetical to poverty reduction and the provision of low-income housing. The LGBTQ+ status of those advocating the YIMBY position does not prima facie validate this program.

Worse, those who identify as LGBTQ+ but challenge YIMBY’s claims to economic justice are being erased and abused. The tactics of YIMBY defenders turn into attacks and ad hominem lies, the rhetoric of people unwilling to defend their position with reasoned argument or respectful conversation.

Let’s be clear: every LGBTQ+ person – or any other identity – has the right to support any policy or position they choose. The problem is when this right is not recognized in kind, and the ideas are not considered on their own merits but judged according to who expresses them.

Yes, identities are tied to forms of privilege and oppression as specific as we are unique. But we need to recognize when identities are reifications of class, and that class is the only hierarchy everyone is constrained to.

We must realize that the only people who win when we fight for position among us are the wealthy and those who act in their interests to sow division. Because if we are too distracted to focus on the interests we have in common, we are not working together to achieve the material conditions for real change.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We cannot solve our problems without a radical redistribution of economic and political power.”

But until then, for those celebrating, Happy Business Acceptance Month!


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