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Seattle Queer Activists Declare “No Pride in Genocide” | July 10-16, 2024

By meerna Jul11,2024
Seattle Queer Activists Declare “No Pride in Genocide” | July 10-16, 2024

On Sunday, June 30, an estimated 300,000 people attended the Seattle Pride march, which marked 50 years of Pride in the city. While the parade was dominated by floats representing corporations and institutions, several hundred queer activists joined the parade to show solidarity with the Palestinians and demand an end to Israel’s war on Gaza.

Some activists joined the contingent at the beginning of the parade, holding Palestinian flags and banners with the rallying cry “No Pride in Genocide.” Another group of activists entered the parade directly before the parade’s “glamazon” section, an affinity group of LGBTQ+ employees of online retailer Amazon. Participants then headed to Seattle Center, where they held a die-in near the International Fountain in the middle of PrideFest, a satellite Pride event. Activists held up the names and portraits of some of the 38,000 Palestinians who have been killed by the Israeli military in the nine months since Oct. 7, 2023.

Protest organizers said they were trying to hark back to Pride’s origins as a disruptive freedom protest rather than the modern, commercially driven parade. Participants also criticized police violence, with one person holding a sign reading “tops hate cops.”

“Pride isn’t about this big parade where we have giant floats and a big stage,” said Robin, an activist who attended the protest. “It was about queers who were oppressed in New York City in Greenwich Village and fighting for their liberation. I think a little bit of joy is great, but also connecting with those roots where it was rebellion, it was protest. … I think bringing all that back is important.”

Some participants held signs criticizing Israeli “pinkwashing,” the idea that the country is using its reputation for protecting LGBTQ+ rights to cover up alleged war crimes and other human rights abuses.

“I think Israeli pinkwashing is trying to erase the existence of Palestinian queers and Arab and Muslim queers,” said Yasmine, a queer Arab Muslim woman and protester. “(Israeli pinkwashing is trying to) perpetuate a backward, racist view of Palestinians, that they are inherently homophobic and that Palestinians who are queer cannot be counted among them and among people who oppose apartheid and genocide.”

Although the protest was international in scope, activists said local groups could take action to show solidarity with the Palestinians. They called on Seattle Pride, the nonprofit that organized the parade, to bar several Seattle-based corporations, such as Amazon, Boeing, Expedia, Starbucks and Microsoft. Many of those companies are on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) list, a grassroots campaign launched in 2005 to pressure Israel to end its military occupation of Palestine.

“I don’t think Pride should have a place for profiteers,” Yasmine said. “Any company that supplies weapons, bombs, or technology to the genocidal state of Israel — especially with the genocide accusations from the International Criminal Court (and) the International Court of Justice. I think as queer people, we have a responsibility to stand up to that and to shut out companies that profit from that.”

In a statement released on June 30, Seattle Pride called for an “immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza,” condemned anti-Semitism, and called for solidarity with indigenous people facing genocide around the world. However, the organization did not endorse BDS or meet protesters’ demands, instead saying it was “in talks” with local activists and reviewing sponsorship criteria. Historically, most of Seattle Pride’s funding has come from corporate sponsorships.

For longtime lesbian activist Sue Hodes, joining the No Pride in Genocide movement was an energizing experience.

“I am a Jew; since 1988 and the first intifada, I have been working for a just peace for the Palestinians in Israel,” Hodes said. “And with this horrible genocide that Israel is now committing, I have returned to much greater activism.”

Hodes added that the protest fits into a rich history of radical activism within the queer community.

“Because of my younger queer friends, lesbians and queer people, I can keep up with what you’re all doing,” Hodes said. “And because you’ve stood on our shoulders, you’re higher in knowledge, you’re higher in strategies. So I get a lot of that, and also younger people get to see where we’re coming from and know that this has been going on forever.”

Guy Oron is a reporter for Real Change. He covers our weekly news. Find them on Twitter, @GuyOron.

By meerna

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