Queer Liberation — Not Rainbow Capitalism

An anarchist critique of Pride in London

This year, Pride in London is doing its best to commemorate fifty years in LGBT+ struggle, from the Stonewall riot to now. It is a significant milestone. We must remember those who took part in the riot, such as Stormé DeLarverie, Marsha P Johnson, and Sylvia Rivera, and the ways that their actions as gay and trans activists helped to kickstart the gay liberation movement from the late 1960’s. But if these activists were to show up at Pride in London today, would they be happy with what they find? Would they even be allowed to march?

It would be shortsighted to stop where we are today and think that Marsha or any of the others who were there on June 28th would be happy with where we are today. We do not yet exist in a society where being gay, bi or asexual is completely accepted. And we definitely don’t exist in a society where being trans is completely accepted or even partially understood.

And, in case you haven’t noticed, we are still living under a capitalist system that sucks the profit out of anything it can get its hands on, including progressive societal movements. Simply maintaining the status quo is exactly what those in power are trying to do, which means pain and struggle for those caught in the margins.

Pride in London is no longer an act of resistance in the way that Stonewall was. Stonewall was a riot against the police; Pride in London marches with them. Stonewall encouraged everyone to participate; Pride in London hosts TERFs and requires payment in order to be in the march. Simply looking at their website shows us that this march is not something revolutionary, but simply another route to monetary gain. The revolution will not be televised, but it also cannot be sponsored. Barclays, Amazon Music, and Tesco are sponsoring this year, just to name a few rainbow capitalists. As Peter Tatchell says of these corporations:

“They’ve got the money, so they have huge extravagant floats that outshine and overwhelm the LGBT+ community groups…Many of the companies have degayed their floats. They don’t mention LGBT+, just Pride.”

It isn’t new to see companies trying to cash in on societal movements. But if we continue to allow marches like Pride in London to be co-opted by corporations and greed, Queer Liberation will become less of a battle cry and more of a Che Guevara t-shirt.

We stand in solidarity with groups like Reclaim Pride in New York, and Transgenialer CSD in Berlin. Pride needs to be a people’s movement, not a capitalist’s parade. The Anarchist Federation condemns the way Pride in London has betrayed what pride really means: liberation. We stand in solidarity with our trans family who continue to suffer like Marsha did, and for all those affected by anti-LBGT+ violence. Queer Liberation, not rainbow capitalism! No pride in capitalism!

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