This year, there will be one less group performing in the Pride Parade Glassgow. It was, however, not by choice. Instead this group was forbidden from performing for reasons that would not hold any weight to a truly sensible person. Yes, Cross-dressers or transvestites will not be allowed to perform in this years Pride Parade. The reasoning given for this choice were:
“The decision was taken by transgender individuals who were uncomfortable with having drag performances at the event. It was felt that it would make some of those who were transgender or questioning their gender uncomfortable.
It continued: “It was felt by the group within the Trans/Non Binary Caucus that some drag performance, particularly cis drag, hinges on the social view of gender and making it into a joke, however transgender individuals do not feel as though their gender identity is a joke.
(I thought that neither did cross-dressers, but pardon my mistake).
“This can particularly difficult for those who are not out and still present as the gender they were assigned at birth. While it was discussed whether we could have trans drag acts perform, it was agreed that as it would not be appropriate to ask any prospective drag acts whether or not they identified as trans”.
But, it begs the question, is this truly what the Glassgow LGBT community is representing, they are forgetting that cross-dressers, have been avid supporters of the group since at least 1973. It is a shame to alienate this group once again, simply for behaviors that are labelled as a “joke” from a separate group (ironic isn’t it?). The sad part about all of this is that, I wish this had been the first time something like this has happened. But, no it isn’t, and we must take a quick look at history to find out why this action is one of the reasons that our past must be studied.
The Gay Pride Parade, was an idea born due to the police raid of the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969 which incited the Stonewall Riots. This Inn was a safe haven for people with gender queer identities /behaviors (such as cross-dressers, transgender, male prostitutes) to find other like minded people. These violent demonstrations were actually a catalyst towards the gay liberation movement, and will go down in history as the moment when all we have achieved today in the U.S. started. Thanks to the efforts of all who participated in these riots, more establishments were opened up for homosexuals to freely exhibit they orientations without fear of the law (police raids were common due to homosexual people being listed as high threat to national security) (like being gay makes anyone automatically more or less dangerous right?).
These riots did not happen overnight though, and it’s important that we remember that cross-dressers were actively participating during all of these events. They were present when police raided, and also while the LGBT community fought back to retake what belonged to them. The fight lasted days, and in the end the Stonewall was charred and nearly destroyed thanks to all the fighting. But, in its wake laid a fire burning brightly upon the hearts of those who had been there during those tumultuous times.
By November 2, 1969, a group of individuals was already proposing that a march should be established in honor of the events that happened. Together with multiple groups of like minded people, the arrangements were made in order to celebrate the first Pride Parade on the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. The excitement could barely be contained, so much that the event was organized in nearly half the time they expected. Finally on June 28, 1970 just two hours after receiving the permits, the first Pride Parade took place. Why is this important? Because after two years, from these riots, most major cities in the U.S. had established a gay rights group. These groups had very little in common, but included everyone from all races, genders, identities, and yes even cross-dressers.
But, as we all know by this point, history has a funny way of repeating itself. During the 1970’s a feminist activist called Jean O’Leary protested something she perceived as being a mockery to women in the form of cross-dressers and drag queens who were attending a Stonewall Rally. O’Leary claimed that drag queens made fun of women for entertainment value. In response to these staments two drag queens Sylvia Rivera and Lee Brewster rebutted that “You go to bars because of what drag queens did for you, and these bitches tell us to quit being ourselves!”. Not only had O’Leary offended these two, but that day both the lesbian feminist, and drag queens left that rally with a deep sadness in their hearts. But, O’Leary did not stop there, she also excluded transgenders from gay rights because she felt they would be too hard to obtain (she later did change her mind and openly embraced both groups, but to me that was far too late). It’s a shame to see, how little the group in Glassgow has learned of their past. To turn their backs on a group of people who have always been present in their demonstrations, without any shame to show who they are and what they stand for. Now, they are rebuked by the group who they were once extremely closely associated with (now we understand sexual spectrum a bit better, and thus they can be described differently).
This is what led us to today, when Glassgow in the face of an era which finally permitted equal marriage rights, to all who would seek them. Is spitting in the face of drag queens everywhere by telling them that they are offensive to others. Do they mean offensive as in how O’Leary described them? Is simply being different to transgender offensive to people? You know back in the 1960’s everyone who was homosexual was offensive to everyone else. This is the kind of hypocrisy that doesn’t let our society move forward. This is almost equally as bad as those religious people who claim that their religion is real, whilst every other is false. Cross-dressers have been a tremendously important part of the LGBT community in the past. When nobody else besides yourselves were there, drag queens were with you the entirety of the way. To shun them, to turn them back for performing in a display of Pride is a violation of everything you stood for. Don’t forget, it’s not called the “Gay Pride Parade” (at least not anymore) it’s called the Free Pride Parade, and I’ll be damned to allow such an infraction to go by unscathed. Why don’t you also take their feelings into account when you make this sort of decisions instead? When will equality be the goal that we truly strive for instead?
*I want to note that I do understand that they are allowed to be in it, but not perform. However, to me that is still inexcusable*
** I also found out that they indeed reversed their decision and that is wonderful!**
The sources I used for this article were:
Stonewall (1993) by Duberman Martin
What Made Stonewall Different by David Carter