Pride is a time to truly celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community in an inclusive and safe environment. But what if that environment is only there because of corporations wanting to profit off of attendees’ desire to fully express themselves? Modesty Sanchez discusses her first time at L.A. Pride, and her inner frustrations at the plethora of corporations and sponsors.
The morning I went to Pride, I checked my CoStar and scoffed at its claim I had power in social life. Didn’t CoStar know my plans for the day were to recover from the socializing I’d done the day prior? I was excited too, because my recovery process basically involved eating pasta and bingeing Curb Your Enthusiasm.
But right when I put the noodles in boiling water and was getting settled in to enjoy Larry David’s social mishaps, I received the only text that could convince me to abandon my day of relaxation: Want to go to pride ??
To which I responded with a very excited: YES!! I then made a beeline from the couch to my closet, where I quickly selected the brightest items of clothes I had- red pants and a lavender bodysuit- and threw them on my body. Then I ate my pasta and waited patiently for my friend to arrive.
I was eager to witness so many people being themselves and fearlessly expressing their truest identity, and in this respect I was not disappointed. There were so many people dancing, donning glitter, exposing buttcheeks, and kissing their significant others (or they could have been strangers for all I knew). And while it was easy to join them and jump around while cheering for the drag queens modeling on the MAC runway in the middle of the event, it was difficult to be completely enthusiastic.
As I looked around the event, I couldn’t help but notice with increasing frustration that overlooking the celebration were a plethora of advertisements from the various sponsors. Their presence seemingly a reminder that the only reason we were able to gather at an organized event such as this was because these corporations were letting us have an event like this. This was compounded by the fact that the only reason my friend and I were able to even be there that night was because there was no parade- the following two days each had a parade that ended in the park we were standing in at that moment, but they cost money to attend because of the performers that would also be there. Not only were these sponsors exploiting people’s desire to express who they were without fear of ridicule or judgment or hate, but they and the performers were profiting off it. It upset me that this day of celebration was being used as a prop to increase profits by these corporations.
Maybe they meant well, but that would somehow be worse- maybe the corporations truly want to fund Pride and its events, and maybe the performers truly want to perform for the Pride attendees, but that doesn’t erase the fact that they are still willing to profit off of Pride’s message of inclusivity and celebration. While I still had a great and unforgettable experience at Pride, I still couldn’t help but view it as a partial testament to corporations’ willingness and ability to manipulate actual social issues and causes into a means of revenue.