Latest from Professor Darel Paul:

In June 1970, America’s first gay pride parades hit the streets. Four U.S. cities—New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco—hosted crowds ranging from several hundred to a few thousand marching with homemade signs declaring “pride,” “power,” and “liberation.” Like the 1969 Stonewall riots that inspired them, early parades began as intentional acts of disruption, combining political protest with cultural defiance. Fifty annual marches later, Pride parades are backed by our most powerful individuals and institutions. Fortune 500 corporations bankroll them. Senators, governors, and mayors campaign through them. Major league sports teams, churches, hospitals, government bureaucracies, protective services, universities, and K–12 schools march in them. In the largest American cities, over a million spectators line the streets to wish and be wished “Happy Pride.”

The 2020 coronavirus lockdowns have dramatically interrupted public life throughout the United States. Easter and Passover celebrations were shunted online or cancelled outright. So, too, the central public liturgy of the contemporary cosmopolis, the Pride parade. For our leading cities and their elites, this is of far greater consequence than suppressing any traditional holy day. While cities will certainly miss the economic benefits, the greater consequence is an interruption of the cultural work of expressing our society’s core dogmas and reenacting our society’s central myth.

Why and wherefore this annual national carnival of queerness? Mainstream society’s enthusiasm for Pride is no doubt motivated in part by marketing and virtue signaling. Some have argued that corporate America’s “performative wokeness” is a legitimation strategy aimed at culturally left elites who might otherwise support the breakup of tech giants or the taxation of Wall Street. Others have noted that rich consumers with ample disposable income tend to be cultural progressives, and therefore it simply makes commercial sense—especially for luxury brands and high-end consumer services firms—to embody the progressive values of their most desirable clientele. These arguments aren’t wrong, but they say nothing about what attracts elites to progressive causes in the first place. They are silent, in particular, on what makes an association with queerness so alluring. After all, Americans are not turning out in the millions for annual civic celebrations of abortion rights, slavery reparations, or gun control. In the annals of performative wokeness, Pride holds pride of place.

Queerness has conquered America because it is the distilled essence of the country’s post-1960s therapeutic culture.

Read the whole thing. Is Professor Paul the most important public intellectual on the Williams faculty today? If not, who is?

Facebooktwitter
Print  •  Email