Many queer and trans people of color answer a resounding NO. Mainstream Pride festivals across the nation have widely been whitewashed and corporatized, in addition to their reliance on overwhelming police presence. Falling in line with that pattern of complicity and collusion with systemic oppression, Stonewall Columbus refused to condemn or hold the CPD accountable after the#BlackPride4 were brutally arrested at the SWC Pride Festival and Parade last June.
Stop motion collage: Bobby Luck
FIlming and editing: Cheyenne Garnes
Kelli Oliver: No! [Laughs] I don’t feel comfortable in most situations [laughs] particularly situations where there are large amounts of police or thousands and thousands of people and it’s, like, heavily surveilled. Situations like that, I certainly don’t feel safe or comfortable. The Pride that exists in Columbus as it is, it’s like when you walk in there it’s, like, very clear that it wasn’t meant for me.
Dkeama Alexis: I never feel comfortable in largely white spaces that are laden with police officers because again those are two things that make me incredibly vulnerable and [that are] dangerous for me as a queer person of color And that’s what mainstream pride is.
Amita Sharma/Ace Stamos: Basically right after the #BlackPride4 incident happened at the bridgem like pretty immediately after even like last year, we were like ,we have to have qa conversation about this
Figure out what’s going to go down. I think it was already in most of our minds at least that we weren’t going to be involved with Stonewall anymore, and I think that decision really came from, you know, making a conscious choice about who are we standing with and who’s important. Again, I think it’s very important in my life that I have to stand with people of color, i have to stand with queer people when it comes to making those types of decisions.
Dkeama Alexis: I especially don’t want to attend a celebration hosted by Stonewall Columbus because they are falling into that larger pattern of whitewashing and marginalizing people of color. But then their response — or rather lack thereof — to the violence that happened against the #BlackPride4 last summer just goes to show that there is a lack — a glaring lack — of accountability within that sphere, that nonprofit sphere that is run by white people — queer white people — but then it also goes to show that they aren’t really here to listen to our concerns after the fact because they didn’t do anything about police presence at Pride, and they haven’t done anything to protect or support the #BlackPride4 after the incident. Actually, they went so far as to testify against the #BlackPride4 after those bogus arrests went to trial.
Wriply Bennet: I have only ever attended mainstream Pride I’m going to say about 3 times in my, like, entire life in Columbus, and it was because it was always very, very White. It never felt safe for me, and I never feel comfortable around police, and it was always overpoliced.