Pride is Politics, Solidarity and Joy

Pride. The atmosphere was absolutely amazing. So many people said so. It was grassroots, there was genuine appreciation that the LGBT community can fight for itself. We don’t need corporations to do it for us. This wasn’t a parade being put on to entertain straight people: it was a march for ourselves and for solidarity.

The ISO marched as part of a radical left contingent, chanting, “Brick by brick, wall by wall, we will make these prisons fall.” We had been at the counter-demonstrations of previous years, so this weekend felt like a real victory. We – the community, the left, working-class queers, Māori, trans, young queers – put up a democratic challenge and we won. This march was both a victory in itself and a celebration of that victory. There was joy in that celebration all around us.

We learned through this struggle. It taught so many oppressed people to be confident in themselves: we can win, and we can win on the basis of struggle and grassroots action. Grassroots action alone. We can draw people to us through this vision. At one point in the march the question went up about how many people were at their first march. Around a quarter of the crowd yelled back in response. The march was young. We should have hope for a more confident and militant layer of the oppressed emerging out of this. The politics of appealing to the official structures and getting representatives and corporate sponsors on board met a direct challenge yesterday. That challenge was a mass march through Queen Street, with bewildered straights and angry pigs looking on.

There were political challenges to this joy and solidarity, however. Transphobic bigots tried to claim that there were no lesbians on the march, which must have come as a surprise to the cis lesbians and trans lesbians marching together in love and solidarity throughout the march. TERFs, the peddlers of this divisive hatefulness, are a minority in this struggle. The gay petit-bourgeois resent our success, too, but all the anticipated disaster predicted when the corporates withdrew their backing failed to materialise. Thousands marched in pride and solidarity.

There were no police at pride, but there was celebration and politics: dancing, marching, joy. Thank you to all the comrades who have contributed to the still-continuing struggle against the police and prisons, and for the liberation of all queer and trans people.

Image credit: Abigail Dougherty / Stuff.