And why keeping it at Pride saves lives.
LGBTQ+ communities and Kink/BDSM/Leather communities overlap in many crucial ways, and I refuse to participate in the erasure of these essential connections. The Queer Rights movement was and is a movement for radical sexual liberation, and rebellion against the idea that everything sexual (especially non-normatively sexual) is harmful is the exact reason we have a Pride to begin with. Queer leather bars, bathhouses, sex clubs like the Lesbian Sex Mafia were and are safe havens for queer and trans folks. Gay leathermen and leatherdykes were key actors in the fight against AIDS. There's a reason why your local "Dykes on Bikes" and local Eagles bar have had floats at Pride since before you may have even been born.
But of course, there's more than just history at play here. Right now, in this very moment, there are queers, dykes, trans folks, gay men, and nonbinary members of our communities that are experiencing more love and support in their leather families than they ever did in their families of origin. Queers who are healing the wounds of their familial trauma, building real safety based on consent with their kink families. We cannot celebrate out of one side of our mouth and condemn with the other, nor can we choose how others heal and decide to live their lives. We cannot say at once that we love LGBTQ+ folks and deny their autonomy at the same time.
The idea that Pride is not "kid-friendly" because sexuality is visible in particular ways (whether it's because someone is wearing leather gear or is not wearing much clothing at all) assumes that all displays of sexuality are harmful and damaging.
And yet, where are these same people when another ad goes up of scantily-clad women for the male gaze? Why are these people not picketing the local Hooters? Because this isn't about all displays of sexuality - this is about policing LGBTQ+ sexuality. AT PRIDE. Even our events are not for us anymore. Make no mistake - this is cisheteropatriarchal and capitalist cooptation at its finest. LGBTQ+ people are being expected to turn an event for our LIBERATION into a mass-digestible and consumable *product* for the straights and their respectable nuclear families. But our lives are not products to be consumed and we must resist these attempts to commodify us.
In addition, it is *healthy* for young people to be exposed to a diversity of the ways they could live their lives. Pride and the representation of joyful queer and trans adults saves young lives.
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