May 27, 2007

Ask.Tell.Act Coalition

Hi everyone!

Wow, so this is my first post. I wanted to let you all know about the Ask.Tell.Act Coalition, which has been formed in opposition to Pride's theme: "Ask. Tell. Proud to Serve Our Community, Our Country, Our World." The theme's description further states, "We are proud of our service and we are happy to share our lives with you. Just ask, and we'll tell!". Below is a letter from the coalition detailing why we oppose this theme.

"Dear Boston Queer/LGBTQPI… Community Members and Allies,

The Boston Pride Committee has chosen a divisive theme (and imagery) for Boston Pride that glorifies militarism and shows a misplaced sense of priorities. In response, concerned organizations and individuals have formed the Ask. Tell. Act. Coalition to encourage our community to think about the issues of militarism, corporitization, transphobia, sexism, and racism that are presented by the theme. We are asking for your support and solidarity in ignoring the Boston Pride Committee’s theme by including the messages below on your floats, signs, and other Pride materials, and by wearing something hot pink on the day of Boston Pride.

ASK: Why celebrate militarism?

We believe that it is wrong to echo militaristic culture for our queer pride celebration when thousands of lives are being lost due to the bloody and increasingly senseless occupation of Iraq. We believe that it is wrong that billions of dollars are spent funding war and occupation around the world while the needs of our veterans and our society’s countless other human needs are left unattended. Furthermore, we stand against the trend of prioritizing the fight against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” at a time when the youth of our community are facing an epidemic of homelessness, and the transgender people of our community are facing violence and discrimination at every level of our society. There is no pride in war and occupation.

TELL the truth about injustice!

We believe that the language that the Boston Pride Committee has chosen creates the impression that Pride is a day for LGBT people to put our lives on display for the straight, dominant culture. Not all of us are willing or safely able to answer any question asked of us, as the theme suggests. While, this theme celebrates “our service to society”, we believe that Pride should not be a day in which we celebrate our “service” to the dominant culture, but a day for ourselves to celebrate our pride in being who we are. We reject this language because many of us are not willing or able to proclaim our pride in what we do for an occupation, to make money, or to “serve.” We live in a society in which queer immigrants are enduring violent, terrifying raids at work and home. We live in a society in which many transgender people cannot find jobs due to discrimination. We believe it is unfair, offensive, and in some cases dangerous to encourage the most discriminated against members of our community to march in pride of our “service.”

ACT to transform our community, country, and the world!

We owe it to ourselves and to the many brave queer people who came before us to continue the legacy of proud resistance that accompanies queer pride celebrations. We must embrace a spirit of liberation. We believe that there are countless ways to express pride in our identities without allowing ourselves to become owned by Big Pharma, Airlines, Credit Cards, Liquor Companies, and Banks. Major corporations have no right to exploit and profit off of our community. Our sexualities and genders are shaped by all the identities we carry. We believe that in order to truly celebrate our queerness we must make the choice to stand up against racism, sexism, classism, militarism, assimilation, and all systems of oppression.

Please join us in making a visual impact at Boston Pride by including these messages of resistance and social justice in your signs, floats, and materials. Instead of camo, wear something hot pink on Boston Pride day!

In Solidarity, Happy Queer Pride!

The Ask. Tell. Act. Coalition

P.S. Our Alliance meetings are every Sunday at 5PM at Community Church in Copley Square. All are welcome to attend."

There has been a lot of discussion surrounding this response from the greater queer community, and a space has been created for that dialogue on the website There have also been multiple articles by In Newsweekly and I'd love to hear feedback from you and, if your interested, see you in hot pink at Pride.


icarus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
icarus said...

this is very interesting, but i dunno, i wonder if there might be more concrete, immediate things to galvanize around right now (ie, the nondiscrimination bill, constitutional convention, etc). just a thought...

entendante said...

I don't think wearing pink at Pride is going to stop anybody from working toward the nondiscrimination bill.

(I wonder what message pink camo would send ... )

Anonymous said...

Welcome! Thanks for posting. You left us something to think about.

I hope you keep us updated on your future activities!


Anonymous said...

People, please you have a right to your opinion...but reconsider this anti-military stuff. The Boston Pride committee is just using advertising to sell their event. Maybe their choice of advertising is not the best, but let's be respectful of the military.

I am a dyke that votes. I personally believe that the military is good. War is not good, maybe our government leaders are wrong, but the people of the military deserve our utmost respect and support. Be proud of our military people! It is these people that keep us safe and able to go on with our day to day lives.

I am simply suggesting that you use your power elsewhere as people. There is so much more to protest and better things to put your energies towards. Being angry at the military and all things military should not be one of them. Be mad at how and where the military is being used, but not the military iteself.

Ironically, what you are proposing is extremely military. Gathering as a group and starting a war against Pride is very uncool! Pride is here to help us celebrate queerness! Do you know what the haters are going to say about us protesting against our own people? Why call attention to this? Chalk it up to a not so great ad campaign devised by a small, small portion of one committee and leave it at that. Hold a anti-military day somewhere else unrelated to Pride events to make your point. Don't ruin Pride for everyone with this negativity.

USA forever! What happened to all the 9-11 proud American sentiments?

Anonymous said...

Military forces exist to kill people. You can gussy up that fact nice words but that's what they do, as organizations.

Sometimes they kill people in a way that serves your interests. Goodie!

Sometimes they kill you. Very sad. Shucks.

Sentimentalizing the military is great... as long as the military you feel sentimental about is not killing you. Or killing your neighbors. Or maiming you. Or killing your children. Or imprisoning you permanently. Or sucking dry your national resources. When those things happen the romance wears thin.

Yeah, people deserve respect. Organizations that kill people in large numbers, maybe not so much.

mk said...

I wouldn't characterize the proposed actions of the Ask.Tell.Act Coalition as a war against Pride by any means. Some people plan to show up at Pride wearing something bright pink as a show of solidarity. Others will hold signs or pass out flyers. We will still be there, celebrating, supporting, and loving each other.

While the final theme decision may have been made by a small group of people, ads proclaiming the theme are all over the city. The committee is very visibly connecting a celebration of our identities and sexualities (a celebration that is admittedly already very commercial, but that's a topic for another discussion) to ideas of militarism and patriotism that absolutely do not accurately reflect the views and values of queer Boston.

emily2 said...

i think the pride theme is brilliant.

have you considered that there are gay people out there who WANT to serve in the military? furthermore, there are many people who join the military for opportunities down the road - like tuition. gay people have to hide and pretend not to be themselves if they want these same opportunities.

the military is necessary. i'm going to refrain from using words like "good" and "bad" - but anyone with common sense knows that the military is necessary for a functioning society. stop romanticizing it and/or demonizing it. it is what it is. it's not going away, and we need it. this is elementary.

at this point in the gay activism timeline, activism like what you're suggesting undermines the entire community by making us look like moonbats. we're at the point where we're transitioning into a post-ghetto minority. the pride theme essentially says, "we're out. we're proud. and we want to be a part of and to serve society, not stand apart from it." bravo to whoever thought of the theme.

on that note, please respect gays and lesbians who want to serve the country in the military. you may disagree with them, but by doing this, you are attacking them and therefore essentially siding with the right wing nutjobs who want to keep them second class citizens. i stand with the gays and lesbians who want to serve. i may disagree with the entire premise of the iraq war, but if some gays and lesbians want the opportunity to serve, i'll stand behind them.