Keeping things in focus – this is less about the Pride and Parade organizations as a whole and the majority who adhere to inclusion and more about a tiny handful of bigoted jerks who want to exclude members of our community! Most lesbians are not separatists wanting to exclude transgender people from our community.
I have spent many years as an activist working for LGBTQI rights here in the United States and globally. I have have always seen us as one community – the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer community. We all fall under two headers, sexual orientation and gender identity, still requiring full global acceptance and recognition of our being and inherent equality. The story should end with us all, hand in hand, acquiring 100% full equality worldwide- and toward that benchmark, we are unified, and after attaining it, we remain as such!
As I age, I would hate to think that any one of us would have the audacity to think or believe that a Pride, a parade, whether a celebration or protest, or measure of both, is a worthy space for a fringe small group of lesbian separatists to assert their anti-transgender sentiment!
By the same token, here in the United States, our First Amendment rights allow us to adorn whatever messaging we deem fit when marching or otherwise. However if there was hate messaging against members of our own community then I do believe those adorning and presenting such messages can expect to incur the wrath of others and should know they are not welcome. That is not who we are as an LGBTQI+ community.
Let us explore ….. Two incidents from this Pride season come under scrutiny: London Pride and The Dyke March, San Francisco.
LONDON PRIDE: A group of lesbian activists blocked the start of the Pride in London march on July 07, “protesting” transgender women. A group of eight women stormed the parade route without being a authorized contingent. Then five of them laid down on the road in front of the parade and draped a banner over themselves. The banner read: ‘Transactivism erases lesbians’. They blocked the parade route for about 10 minutes. One of the activists shouted out: ‘A man who says he’s a lesbian is a rapist’.
London Pride apologized:
We are sorry.
Yesterday a group of individuals labelled as “Get The L Out!”, who were not a registered parade group, forced their way to the front of the parade to stand on the rainbow flag. Their behaviour was shocking and disgusting, and we condemn it completely.
The lesbian board members at Pride in London made their anger towards the unsanctioned group clear and our organisation as a whole condemns their actions. The protest group showed a level of bigotry, ignorance and hate that is unacceptable.
We reject what this group stands for. They do not share our values, which are about inclusion and respect and support for the most marginalised parts of our community.
We are proud of our trans volunteers, proud of the trans groups that are in our parade, proud of our trans speakers at events and proud of the trans people who take part in our campaigns and proud of those who cheered even louder for them yesterday.
Sadly, we could not forcibly remove the group as their protest was not a criminal offence. They demanded to march behind the rainbow flag, which marks the official start of our parade. We did not allow that as we did not want to legitimise them or their message.
We moved them to an area far in front of the official parade start to separate them. We are looking at what we could do differently if something like this happens again.
The Pride goers who were in London yesterday told us that the actions of 8 people did not stop the joy and love that was demonstrated by the 30,000 people who followed. They tell us that cheers for our trans siblings were even louder.
We are distraught by the messages and the hurt that has been caused and we held an urgent meeting with the Community Advisory Board this morning. We have also spoken to a number of individuals and groups including trans activists and Stonewall.
As volunteers, we are shocked and appalled by this behaviour, not least because some felt threatened by the protesters. We are treating this extremely seriously and will be reviewing what happened with the Greater London Authority, the Metropolitan Police, Westminster City Council, TfL and continuing to consult with our Community Advisory Board.
We will also be working with groups who have offered support given this issue must be stamped out and we will do everything we can to use our platform for good.
Again, we are sorry to any of our trans siblings and their allies who have been affected.
Additional comments from our community:” LINK HERE.
Having been on the inside of large Pride organization as a past VP on Board of SF Pride, and speaking here for myself, I understand just how complex and difficult these ‘in the moment’ surprises can be. I have witnessed a community Grand Marshall try to take over a Pride parade front Board contingent, to a group of anti-Israel protesters pretending they were at the front of a 100,000 people parade, as if leading it. When things like this happen there is not much organizers can do, especially in the last moment when furtive plans suddenly come to light. Often the best thing to do is to step back from the drama and put safety of all at the fore. Often police and security are given a ‘hands off’ policy before the start of the parade and will only be able to forcibly remove individuals if something illegal occurs.
I do not believe that London Pride is to be viewed as anti-trans and I do believe their position is remorseful. However, what they should not have done – was this “….We moved them to an area far in front of the official parade start to separate them. We are looking at what we could do differently if something like this happens again.” That was a huge mistake, which they admit. But then I wonder what could they have done if there was no legal means to forcibly remove the intruders, from the outset.
Parade organizers do rely on community to be respectful and adhere to the basic rules, respect process of registration and to simply exercise common decency. But unfortunately there are a minority who are self serving and will always fail to conform or consider the better good of our entire LGBTQI community at large.
SAN FRANCISCO DYKE MARCH:
AND an article by Young Women Attack Dykes their Grandma’s Age,” which seems to blame a confrontation at the San Francisco Dyke March on ageism rather than trans exclusionary behavior/ sentiment that some women were displaying. If in fact this group was exclusionary in their messaging, then of course they were not welcome! Nothing to do with age.
By way of example, I am in their age group and have been made to feel very welcome by younger lesbians when in my leadership and community roles. Then again I would never adorn any messaging about ‘lesbian erasure’ because I know that is code pointing directly to trans exclusion! I do not feel at all erased by transgender people. To me that thinking is hateful and bigoted. So no, Ms. Lavender Joan, nothing to do with age at all!
On their Facebook Page San Francisco Dyke March responded to accusations:
It has come to the attention of The Dyke March there were women with anti trans signs, speaking words of hate and using violence. In the strongest terms we want to confirm the identity of transwomen as women and our commitment to ALL Dyke’s; including transdyke, MTF, transfeminine, transmasculine, genderqueer, and gender fluid dykes.
We, under no circumstances, support this display of transmisogyny and are saddened by those actions.
We appreciate the solidarity and visibility shared. We are reenergized for the fight and can’t wait to see ALL our Dykes again next year.
In love and solidarity,
The San Francisco Dyke March
This statement speaks to that which Joan Annsfire has not admitted to. If in fact her messaging and group was exclusionary of trans people , then she should have the courage to admit her truth before blaming the so called “attack” on her group being singled out for age.
And to make its stance clear San Francisco Dyke March:
To our community, we want to reiterate our support of ALL dyke identities including transdyke, MTF, transfeminine, transmasculine, genderqueer, and gender fluid dykes. We stress that transmisogyny is against the values of the Dyke March.
We will not allow a space, physical or virtual, for hatred to be spread.
Because of this, we have made the decision to turn off commenting on our posts.
We still stand by our previous statement about displays of transphobia at the march. The committee is regrouping and we hope to offer an appropriate forum for this topic that does not allow for hate speech.
The San Francisco Dyke March.This year proved to be challenging for organizers of Dyke March as probably many more volunteers were needed. Let us hope next year more people come forward to help.
When all is said and done – let us not forget two things: Firstly all Prides at large Cities with huge visibility including London and San Francisco, serve as a beacon and light to all around the world, who are criminalized and who still struggle against the law and public sentiment to hold safe Prides and related events. We should continue to provide examples of full inclusion, nothing less. My hope is that when these few and far between fringe monstrosities attempt their exclusionary protests yet again, we ignore them and refuse them center stage through allowing their pissing on events to overshadow the larger messaging. To do THAT again would be repeating THAT mistake!
Posted by Melanie Nathan
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