June 1st marks the start of the celebration of Pride month all across the globe, and while I have been to many, many Pride celebrations, Pride and I have a complicated relationship – kind of like the one you have with your mother-in-law; tolerable, but not the most pleasant.
As a bisexual, trans man I tick all the boxes required to be the walking poster child for Pride. I have no problem going shirtless despite the top surgery scars across my chest, and I certainly have no problem vocalizing my attraction towards both men and women. I live a 5-minute walk away from what is known as “Gay Village” in Toronto, and nothing screams queer more than a tattoo clad man in rainbow socks; but despite all that, I have a true love-hate relationship with a month that should ideally be paradise for me.
The first Pride that started as a riot in Manhattan, New York called the Stonewall Riots, has quickly become a commercialized event for so many. With Ariana Grande performing at Pride in 2019, companies selling Pride-specific merchandise, and people using Pride festivals as an excuse to get a drunk and run topless through city streets, Pride is not much of an enjoyment for me.
Don’t get me wrong, when Pride hits Toronto, I’m filled with a sense of joy, and yes, pride for being part of such an amazing and exuberant community; but the heavy commercialization of the event has left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Companies tote rainbow flags outside of their stores to show their inclusivity, and fund spaces at Pride events so that every time I want to enter into a venue I’m met with giant billboards reading “BROUGHT TO YOU BY SCOTIABANK”. While Toronto may look like a queer paradise during the month of June, come July, there isn’t a pride flag to be found within a 20-mile radius of the city.
I don’t need to be blinded by electric rainbow flags, flashing lights, and copious amount of alcohol to feel supported, and the over materialization and commercialization of Pride month has made June into more of a marketing scheme then a month actually about the support of LGBTQ+ people. So, while it’s easy for companies to pack up and go home after June, that’s just simply not an option for me.