Editorial/Opinion

EDITORIAL: How to Make Pride for Straight People

Double Sided Media was founded during The Uprising following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. That being said, our first published article was “Pride for Black Trans Lives,” on Aug. 19, 2020 — and guess what? There was a single, lonely pup at the event. “Pup” as in pet play, of course. 

DSM has been at every-single Pride event since.

That’s just one example of someone embracing their kink in public at an event designed for that exact purpose. At that event, no one seemed to mind the pup in their gear. They even reportedly received a compliment from Mayor Vinis. 

Fast forward to this year and, once again, Eugene—which, for some reason, prides itself on being a bastion of liberalism—has proved that it is far from it. 

“Pride in the Park” on Aug. 14 is just another example. 

On Aug. 10, a few days prior to the event, the official Eugene Pride Facebook page posted the rules for the event. They include: “No signs within festival grounds; No gear or paraphernalia; and No political/religious messages outside of approved area” 

Eugene Pride’s rules for the 2021 Pride in the Park Event (Facebook)

I am going to be frank — what the fuck?!  This event seems specifically designed to avoid offending straight people as much as possible.

Let’s unpack this, shall we? 

First, the rules say “no signs within festival grounds” and that “no political/religious messages outside of approved area.” Without even mentioning how banning political messages is, literally, antithetical with what Pride is and has been, to be Queer—with Pride—is political.

Does anyone remember Stonewall? You know, the riot? 

Was the march going to be signless? Or are the organizers going to ask that people throw away their signs prior to entering Alton Baker Park? 

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that on the Facebook Event Page, they make it clear that they are working in conjunction with the Eugene Police Department for the parade. Wasn’t there a whole controversy regarding police being present at Pride events this year? 

In fact, New York City’s Pride event explicitly prohibited the police this year. Sure, it was a deviation from the norm — after all, Queer officers in uniform had been previously allowed to march with the parade since 1996

But times have changed. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, there has not only been a renewed fight for Black Civil Rights, but also an reckoning in the Queer liberation fight. Cops are no longer welcome. 

If you need an example, just look at New York City’s alternative Pride event from this year. Cops were banned from marching with the official parade but openly attacked another with pepper spray and batons. 

Secondly, the event’s “What Should I Wear?” section states that “You should wear what makes you feel the most like you! Pride is all about authenticity and freedom,” but then adds that it “is a family-friendly event so please be mindful and respectful of everyone who will be attending.”

With people taking to the comments questioning what “gear” means, the page doubled-down and elaborated through replies. 

One of them said:

“For some people, kink gear is related to trauma. There are kink spaces where everyone has consented to engaging with the kink community, but this event is not one of them. We continue to support those kink spaces and groups, but ask that it not be on display at the festival. It is our practice to default to the option that causes the least harm and feel that reducing triggers as much as possible is the right thing to do.”

Another reply from the Facebook page specifically stated that “wearing leather vests, caps, etc. is not a problem as long as city laws are followed (i.e. public nudity laws), but BDSM gear and such would not be appropriate in this specific situation.” In another reply, they added pup play to their list of banned kinks. 

So, all things considered, it really looks—and feels—like this years’ Pride has been fine-tuned not for Queer people—especially kinksters—to be prideful of who they are but to ensure that easily triggered heterosexuals are comfortable. 

Oh, but let us not be upset, right? After all, they said they “are not anti-kink” but “are mindful of consent and creating a safe space for everyone.” 

Not only are they actively being anti-kink by, essentially, banning kink-related gear, but they are also showing themselves to not be knowledgeable of the kinks themselves. For example, there is a common misconception that pup play, or pet play, is inherently sexual

It’s not. To the contrary, pet play is predominantly about headspace, or the ability to alter your consciousness towards being a puppy, or kitten, or even a horse. 

Grandmas love them. Why can’t you? 

Real dogs, or bio-dogs as they are known in the pup play community, love them, too. So?

What isn’t mentioned in any of the replies, or the original post, is anything about our furry community. Furries—people who also roleplay with headspace aspects as animals—often wear full-body fursuits. According to a summer 2020 survey of over 550 furries throughout 41 different countries, nearly 35% were in the United States.  

Are fursuits not “child friendly?” C’mon. 

But, for some reason, Eugene Pride thinks their event will be like that of San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair—the country’s most renowned annual BDSM event—where, yes, public nudity and sex is prevalent. 

Correct me if I’m wrong but Eugene Pride has never been such an event, nor did I expect it to evolve into one. That being said, it is completely, and totally, wrong to ban certain kink-related gear — mostly on the basis of a misconception. 

You see, in June 2019, them.—a U.S.-based online Queer magazine—published “Why Kink, BDSM, and Leather Should Be Included at Pride,” by Chingy L. 

“Queerness can be about lust, love, or both, but by that same token, kink, leather, and BDSM aren’t exclusively about sex; to a large extent, they’re about community building,” they wrote. 

Capping off their argument, Chingy L. wrote:

“At the end of the day, when we bring our kinks and fetishes to Pride, it’s not to harm or trigger or offend, and it isn’t about forcing one’s desires upon another. It’s about consenting adults elating in one of the many ways people experience their queerness and individual identities, and forging a connection to the history of radical sexual liberation that Pride was founded upon.”

Pride wasn’t founded on comfort. Remember that.

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