Opening the Gates?: Telling the Edith Windsor narrative at the #WorldPride 2014 Opening Ceremony

Throughout the opening ceremony of World Pride 2014, the figure of Edith Windsor was constantly recalled:

Edith Windsor and her partner Thea Spyer
Edith Windsor and her partner Thea Spyer

Large screens showed images of Windsor at regular intervals. They almost seemed to imply that, with Windsor v DOMA,  this well-to-do white middle-class woman broke down  all the barriers, the gates in the way of LGBT community members in America in one fell swoop. I’m not disputing Windsor’s involvement – I just think that the history of Gender and Sexually Diverse activism is more complex than that. I also think that the exclusive focus on marriage detracts from serious inequalities that still exist in Western cultures (for all the talk of progress) that perhaps are felt more acutely by Gender and Sexually Diverse Community members other than white affluent lesbians and gay men. This was really born home for me, for all the talk of gates broken down, the World Pride Opening Ceremony itself was a place where gates were definitely policed and patrolled:

Corporate Security on VIP Gate
Corporate Security on VIP Gate

You might say that corporate sponsorship is a necessary fellow traveler, but the level of branding of Pride as a logo at World Pride is staggering.  It was difficult not to notice the social make-up of the corporate VIPs:

Global Rights for Corporations
Global Rights for Corporations

Against all of that – for me – far more genuinely moving that being constantly reminded of Edith Windsor was to watch four gay men and a woman, who had been involved in the activist battle following the Toronto Bathhouse Raids of 1981, carry the Rainbow  Flag to be flown at City Hall.  It was a reminder that many who might now be seen at elites were considered pariahs only a couples of decades ago – of how much we have gained from their struggles. It was also a reminder that Pride is not a VIP brand, but something for more valuable – it belongs especially to those who stand outside of gates looking in.


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