The Twin Cities Pride Festival was chock full of corporate goodness. Big box retailers, insurance companies, real estate agents, radio stations, etc. I didn’t see the parade, but I can only assume it was hours of advertising for companies who ‘support’ the GLBT community.

The Star Tribune in the past week has printed to articles about Pride and it’s corporatization. In “Gay pride parade an attractive marketplace for businesses”, the Strib interviews some gays to ask what they think of the Pride Parade. Each one seems happy that each year there are fewer drag queens and naked guys in barrels (Naked Minnesota), or less of the ‘silly glitter element’ as Kirby Moore is quoted as saying. Apparently, a boring GLBT Pride is okay for some folks, probably the same type of people that think theCastro, the center of sexual liberation, should be child friendly.

Claude Peck and Rick Nelson banter back and forth in “Withering Glance: The Twin Cities GLBT Pride Festival” about the absolute dullness of Twin Cities Pride suggesting maybe we should call it “Twin Cities GLBT Marketing Opportunity.” Where are the strange, sexy, outrageous, and fabulous elements of our community?

Claude says, “Gays and lesbians kvetch that the news media focus only on drag queens and Dykes on Bikes in covering the parade. But those are what are known as vibrant visuals. A phalanx of 75 people in matching Best Buy T-shirts does not exciting television make. Besides, weren’t drag queens and dykes the ones who got the whole late-June pride thing going in the first place?”

I’m pretty sure they were. But corporate sponsors don’t attach their names to butch, topless womyn on Harley Davidsons, or gaudy contingents of men in hag drag, or buff and tan 20 year olds in hot pants, or aging leather dadddies in harnesses. And the hetero (and gay) families that come down to see the “Gay Parade” would definitely pick up the phone and call to complain if they did.

Nevermind that the ‘glitter element’ might actually serve to educate people coming to our festival with an open mind, wanting to learn more about GLBT people and culture. Instead they get the message that GLBT people are exactly like them, except they spend a lot of money. The ‘glitter element’ is part of our history, and we should stop hiding it in favor of corporate sponsorship. Plus the ‘glitter element’ is fun. Twenty-five people wearing the same t-shirt is boring.

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