It’s pride month yet again, and this time around I find myself…pretty goddam whipped up. I’ve written previously about the un-nuanced ways a lot of people talk about pride. That is not what has me all frothy this time.
Or maybe it is?
Today on Facebook, I wrote:
I don’t mean to sound like a crank, but I’m glad I can remember homosexuality before vodka commercials.
And I feel like after that, a lot of the grumpy feelings I have been having lately lent themselves some context.
Do I hate pride now? No. But I am genuinely happy that, well…I remember being gay before Absolut pride floats.
Walking home tonight, this phrase came to me:
The Absolut Bargain: The contract between monied white gays, the corporations that want their money, and the allies most visibly associated with monied white gays.
It is, in effect, the widely promulgated belief that everything is ok because now there is gay vodka. Or gay travel websites. Or gay…I don’t fucking know, shrimp forks. … Maybe shrimp forks have always been gay, but I think you know what I mean.
The Absolut Bargain is a shared delusion that visibility and the ability to be marketed to means that we’re basically in the home stretch in terms of LGBT equality.
You’d be forgiven for believing that “the gay agenda” is basically cocktails and jet-setting, because corporations, the gay groups they prop up, and the straight people who have aligned themselves with either or both are themselves visible and invested in making you think this. The HRC and vodka companies and the Clintons can get their respective audiences all frothy about how two white investment bankers in the burbs can’t get married, and so you should make sure to give the HRC, vodka companies, and the Clintons all the *wink wink* *nudge nudge* support you can.
Marriage is an immediately understandable metaphor for what it’s like to be marginalized as a queer in this country, and I’m not prepared to have a shouting match about whether or not marriage equality is important, because, well…I think it is.
But only if you are in all other ways already enfranchised can you carry forth with the belief that everything will be wrapped up in a nice little package of full equality if and when marriage becomes the law of the land.
The Absolut Bargain is a willful misrepresentation of (many if not most) queer realities. Most LGBT people are not white millionaires. Most LGBT people are never going to book a cruise. Many if not most LGBT people cannot experientially believe that marriage or an attendant sliver of other issues are all that stand between them and full equality.
As LGBT people, our communities are fanned out among all other communities – and if we didn’t have the willful obfuscation of monied white gay concern activism to fight against, it would be so much easier to understand that LGBT equality is inextricably linked with the liberation of all humanity from all forms of oppression.
Queerness is not a quirk of rich white cisgender men. Every fight is an LGBT fight because we are everywhere. The Absolut Bargain is no bargain at all – unless you happen to be running a mainstream gay rights org, a vodka company, or a Democratic political campaign.
The fight is not over because of corporate sponsorships, or celebrities with talk shows, or celebrities on magazine covers. Refuse to believe economically motivated political messaging.
And for the love of god, don’t tell your queer and trans friends they should be happy because of all the ‘gifts’ of The Absolut Bargain.
The world is not healed by branded rainbow sneakers, and LGBT people are affected by every other form of oppression. Don’t confuse the narrowly defined agendas of a couple of mainstream organizations with a holistic worldview. There is no LGBT equality without full equality for all.
Big Mama Schlomo