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Was OurMarch a march for all of us?

This year Auckland celebrated it’s 8th annual Pride Festival. The day was sunny, there were plenty of smiles, and a lot to look forward to. Still, for a lot of us, it didn’t feel as though things were quite right.

I started my day on Pride about as in theme for the festivity as I’ve ever been. I woke up sore from a roller-skate date I’d had the other day and went onto Twitter to read the queer discourse as I got ready. Last year was the year the Pride Board banned cops and many corporations dropped their support as a result, leaving the various socialist and queer advocacy groups to pick up where they left off. That year felt different, like the march actually belonged to the people marching in it. Many of us hoped that this was a turning point, so it was disheartening when I arrived to see a banner for Spark before the banners of any of the advocacy groups. This year, the optimism of the last was missing for me and many other Gen Z queers like myself.

Many people in our community have found lives where they’re hard pressed to find discrimination, but many of us still are faced with homelessness, ostracisation, and harassment for our queer identities. While some feel they belong at Pride March as a celebration of all the hard-won acceptance the queer community has earned in recent years, I don’t feel I belong at a Pride March that is no longer trying to address our issues.

I have to wonder what those people are getting out of it that I’m not. Reflecting on the generational gap it seems pretty clear. Pride started in an era where it wasn’t safe to publicly acknowledge who we are, let alone celebrate it. The first marches were composed of protesters in huge numbers who were assaulted by cops. The fact that Pride now is a safe celebration of identity is a wonderful contrast to that. The worst that happened to us this year at Pride was one silly man with a megaphone reading irrelevant bible verses to a disinterested audience.

As wonderful as it is, it hasn’t resonated with me. I’ve been able to celebrate my identity in the same relative safety as the march ever since I became an adult. I don’t have to meet girls in secret bars and hideouts. I meet them on Tinder and get bubble tea. Pride isn’t a novelty to people my age in the same way as it is to earlier generations of queer people.

There’s a generational divide among queers. To some people Pride really is the feeling that we’ve made it. As a member of the board said at the end of the march “What more could you ask for”. To others Pride is a missed opportunity to speak up and demand more. Many advocacy groups gathered at the march for this reason, to demand the things those organisations fight for. But advocacy is never given the spotlight at Pride.

At the end of the day, as nice as Pride’s positivity is, it shouldn’t be at the expense of silencing those in our community who still face unfair hardship. Addressing the ongoing material issues faced by our community should have a place at the forefront of Pride. As Far as we have come, we’ve not made it until we’ve made it there for everyone.

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