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Shame Parade

Pride. I never got it. I am not proud of being queer. Just like I’m not proud of being white or being German. Why be proud of something that isn’t my choice?

But I get it now: queer pride is pride as an answer to being shamed. And maybe that’s why I don’t like the whole pride thing—I don’t like to admit that I am, too, being shamed.

I am being shamed even though I have a pretty good straight passing, I think, and people identify my body relatively easily as female. And I am white and blond and my name sounds German—I don’t disturb them too much.

Some people misgender me because short hair and black clothes signal masculinity to them. Usually, I don’t care. But not caring is work, too. And so is dealing with all the small aggressions: »Uhhh, can I join?!« shouts a 13-year-old speeding by on an e-scooter when I kiss my partner on the side walk.

I also shame myself. My story doesn’t begin with »Since I was a little kid, I knew …«, so I wonder: »Maybe I’m not really queer. Maybe it is a choice after all«. I was no tomboy and I didn’t play soccer. I loved barbie dolls, crafts and baking. So if I wasn’t queer from the beginning, something bad must have happened to me, right, otherwise I would be normal? No-one says this kind of thing anymore, but it’s still present, unsaid, internally.

My own internalised homophobia often turns into paranoia: »Is this person just rude to me—or are they homophobic?« On the street, I let go of my partner’s hand when we walk by a group of men, I avoid eye contact and ignore the stares that still come, even in a big city, in Germany, in 2021.

Today we have pride month and pride marches and rainbows everywhere. Capitalism has made queerness so cool, companies can’t afford not to support queer rights. But marketing tricks like pride month depoliticise the symbols and eradicate the event that the parades commemorate: In 1969 in the Stonewall Inn in NYC’s Christopher Street, queer people of color fought back a police force that regularly raided their bars. Stonewall was a riot. It wasn’t about being colourful and crazy or about spending your money on companies that add a rainbow to their logo. It was about queer people claiming their space in public, and pride as a defence against being shamed.

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