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    Dear Pride Karen: Your Racism Won’t Win Here

    By Carolyn Wysinger–

    Dear Pride Karen,

    First of all, I hope you had a great Pride weekend. I certainly did. It was great to see so many of our partner events return, such as the Trans March and the Dyke March, and the fabulous in-person return of Gary Virginia and Donna Sachet’s Pride Brunch. I even met my guy crush Senator Cory Booker at the 25th Annual Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club Pride Breakfast!

    But, of course, the crowning achievement was the triumphant return of the San Francisco Pride Festival and Parade! I literally cried 3 years of pent-up tears as the Board of Directors came to the end of the parade route. There was a time when I didn’t think SF Pride as an organization would make it to see another in-person event.

    There is nothing that could match the joy and happiness I felt both witnessing the community’s joy marching in the parade and having the opportunity to stand on the Main Stage with our hosts Honey Mahogany & Sister Roma, our Board Members, and all the performers who graced the stage. Walking across the entire site for two days, I had the opportunity to visit each of the stages and greet Pridegoers—that was all amazing. However, that’s where you came into the picture.

    A week after Pride, you sent us a nice little note about the events that led to the abrupt ending to Pride. While I won’t get into that, I will get into your advice that we “don’t have hip hop stages at Pride because they invite a bad element to Pride. They invite people that don’t belong at Pride.”

    Because you clearly don’t have friends who will tell you the truth about yourself, that, ma’am, is racist. I mean racist dog whistles if I have ever heard them. Who exactly is this element that you speak of? Anyone who has ever been to Pride knows that the Hip-Hop stages are primarily visited by Black and Brown youth. Your attempt at race-neutral language is a terrible disguise for what you truly mean of disenfranchisement.

    But let’s give you the benefit of the doubt since you did suggest a stage for another genre primarily listened to by Black folks: R&B music. Oh, no wait … that only points to class and age schisms in the community. And since both of those are concepts rooted in white supremacy, we end up right where we started, with you propagating racially-centered arguments to exclude swaths of people from our celebration, and that is something we will not be doing!

    The issue of racism in the Pride movement and the LGBTQ community at large is a historic wrong that has continually been visited upon BIPOC since the movement’s inception. I don’t have enough words allotted to me in the Bay Times to explain that to you.

    I always tell the story of Summer 2020 when George Floyd was murdered. We immediately received letters at the SF Pride office about how we needed to cancel Pride because “in this moment we need to be focused on our Black brothers and sisters.” You mean to tell me you have to cancel Pride just so you can see the many Black community members in our community?! I am pretty certain that those letter writers see Pride the way that many unfortunately see the LGBTQ community across the world. And, let’s just say, that ain’t Black.

    But the great part is that you and your limited view of the world outside of your own window are not the arbiter of who can and cannot come to SF Pride. It will continue to be a light to all. We will continue doing the work to draw in those who have felt historically pushed out of our space. We will also continue to do everything we can to keep our community safe from individuals who bring harm to the space.

    Your racism won’t win here. Not today.

    Carolyn Wysinger is an LGBTQ author, activist, and President of the SF Pride Board of Directors. She has written for Autostraddle, Everyday Feminism, and Black Girl Dangerous. She can be found starting trouble on Instagram & Twitter @CdubbTheHost 

    Published on July 28, 2022