idiot logic

Reed Cowan’s Stupid Idea to Cancel Pride Until We’ve Won Marriage Equality

Reed Cowan, the ex-Mormon director behind the brilliant Prop 8 exposé 8: The Mormon Proposition, deserves much credit for chronicling the Mormon Church’s heavy-handed influence on the outcome of same-sex marriage in California. But then he went and suggested we should all cancel gay pride parades until there’s marriage equality throughout the land, and that’s where he lost us.

Even with the Mormon Church’s financial contributions to Yes On 8, opponents of marriage equality still spent less than the No On 8 side. And yet still, they succeeded. It might be evidence that money doesn’t really change minds on marriage, or simply that groups like Equality California grossly mishandled the No On 8 effort. But as Cowan notes, what really convinces your neighbors and co-workers and strangers at Costco to get behind our marriage battle and go to the polls on our behalf is engaging them, sharing our stories, and convincingly making the “we’re really the same people” argument.

And without people going door-to-door, how will we ever send that message? Enter Cowan’s convoluted suggestion America’s queers stop going to pride events and start canvassing.

“I would like to propose to the entire worldwide gay community that they cancel gay pride events until we have marriage equality,” says Cowan in an interview to promote his film. “All those thousands of people who go to gay pride, those are bodies that could put on a shirt and go into the neighborhood and tell their story. We should wait until we have equality to have our party. In the meantime we volunteer the same passion and air miles and participation and really channel that same participation into our fight for equality.”

No, Cowan, we should not wait to celebrate our community. It’s this annual event — a rite of passage for many LGBTs — that provides the most visibility for our people. More hetero Americans are aware of annual pride events than, say, the federal Prop 8 trial, which is about to wrap up. Pride events are a chance for us to come together and put aside our own differences. To show that 15-year-olds just coming out, two mommies with three kids, drag queens, bull dykes, trans investment bankers, and Alan Cumming are all part of the same pack. It’s the singular event that does more than tell other people “We’re here, we’re queer.” It reminds each of us there are millions of brothers and sisters dealing with the same shit, and we’re all in this together.

Like, say, the five Russian queers just arrested for trying to hold a gay pride event in St. Petersburg. Is Cowan proposing we stymie their efforts to walk in the streets proudly until we get gay marriage?

Moreover, Cowan’s remarks show he puts marriage equality above every other LGBT issue. And while the right to marry is an important cause, and one we should all support, his position ignores the other missing equal rights LGBTs don’t have — which pride events also act as rallying points for. Serving openly in the military. Being able to adopt and share child custody. Not getting fired from your job for using the “wrong” bathroom. Disbanding pride parades so we can all go canvas the neighborhood to push for marriage equality circumvents the other struggles we’re actively engaged in.

Does Cowan mean, literally, we should stop going to pride? I hope not.

But his message — that we shouldn’t be partying until we have something to celebrate — is also misguided. We do have things to celebrate. In addition to the items the White Hosue’s press office will tick off, we have each other. I know that sounds corny and optimistic, but pride parades are nothing if not an exercise in walking down the street and being proud of your identity. There was a time, not so long ago, we couldn’t do that openly. Or at least not without being harassed and assaulted and run out of town.

I wonder what screenwriter Dustin Lance Black would have to say about Cowan’s remarks. Black, who narrates the director’s film, and is an ex-Mormon himself, last year served as NYC Pride’s grand marshal, serving with Anne Kronenberg and Cleve Jones, another of Cowan’s friends. Black found the time to take part in pride. And yet he still finds the time to go door-to-door with the marriage fight.

How novel.

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  • KWil

    He may have our best interests at heart, but I can’t help but feel this decision would only make the religious community HAPPIER. It would seem like we took their “dominion” as defeat. This to me, is unacceptable.

  • David Ehrenstein

    Indeed it would make the Mormons happy. Plus Gya Pride is a great place to drum up support against the Mormons.



    Your movie: Many thanks

    Your latest idea: Not so much………

    Going to my first Pride Parade in NYC was like an awakening for me as a teen, there were a whole lotta people just like me! In my school and home town there wern’t lots of Gays of the out variety. Being among hundreds of thousands of Gays and Gay supporting straight people was empowering for both myself as a kinda ascared Gay teen as well as showing the strhaters that we really do have a lot of streghth in numbers. We need as many shows of our numbers as possible. I am sure no one enjoying all things rainbow flavored at Pride events thinks about it, but it does make a powerfull statement of just how many of us and our supporters are out there. Gay teens, cops, firemen, PFLAG, seniors and every other flavor of Gay you can imagine are all on parade.

    One of the greatest Pride memories I have is one year those inbred band of scumbag savages the Phelps “family” were demonstrating. Hundreds of people surrounded them and began chanting “FUCK YOU” over and over again. Eventually they cried for Police protection (even though no one was engaging in any violence or threatning so) and were forced to crawl back under the vile rocks they emerged from under. Every opportunity I have I bring straight friends to Pride events, every single one of them has had a great time and sees all the flavors of Gays there are and leaves with a more positive portrayal of all things Gay………..

    Sorry Reed: Epic Fail

  • jeffree

    Cowan’s movie was great. Proposing that we spend more time talking with family, neighbors, colleagues, everyone about our stories isn’t necessraily novel but he’s right. We need to do more of that.

    **BUT** cancelling Pride is a stupid proposal. I wish there were MORE prides in more cities, in fact. Not everyone should have to go just to a big city far away to celebrate.

    He sets up an “either/ or” proposition which is a logical fail. Theres no reason we can’t still participate in Pride AND talk to more people. When I see a str8 couple holding hands on the sidelines grinning I do try to chat them up or at least thank them for being there.

    I came out at my old doctor’s office when I wrote “partnered with a male” on the form under “marital status” and we had a long chat about that. He eventually changed the forms. Those convos are tough but sometimes they do work!

    Gotta run: I have an outfit to plan: right shirt, belt, shoes shorts & sunscreen !

  • KWil

    Holy Shemoly, I would have killed to see that reaction to the Phelp Felchers! hahahaha man, wish somebody could YouTube that shit!

  • Sapphocrat


    Movie: WONDERFUL.

    Idea: Dumb.


  • alan brickman

    Excellant idea….then we don’t have to hear about “Queers against Israeli Apparthied”…..pretty sad…

  • james_from_the_great_city_of_cambridge

    @alan brickman: Sorry that both you and Reed don’t believe in freedom of speech…whether it’s us marching to show our pride or the anti-Israel group marching, it’s what this country is all about. The more uncomfortable something makes you feel, the more you should promote the right of people to do it. Too bad reactionaries like you don’t get that.

  • alan brickman

    Ex morman?… more like another “mediocre selfpromoter” taking advantage of current conflicts to enrich themselves…

  • alan brickman

    Freedom of speech doesn’t mean “freedom from responsibilty: for what you say…..

  • alan brickman

    Gay Pride isn’t a place to practice “hate speech”…there’s my freedom of speech…and loaded with a lot of common sense too!!!!

  • Brian

    He is a newscaster here in Miami. Where does he find the time to do all of this stuff? Does it conflict with his reporting ?

  • Cassandra

    “The more uncomfortable something makes you feel, the more you should promote the right of people to do it. Too bad reactionaries like you don’t get that.”

    I can’t wait to quote this at you every time you vilify me for refuting your anti-religious hate speech.

  • DR

    I think he has a good point, to a degree.

    It’s easy to put his comments down, but let’s be honest for a moment. How many people who show up for Pride events actually get out there and do something for the community. Mere existence isn’t enough in this day and age. There is more to Pride than showing up at an event once a year.

    Should Pride be canceled? Sometimes I think that’s the only way to get the attention of a good part of the community, at least in my neck of the woods. But I agree it’s needed (for some folks, anyway).

    We need the happy balance, and we haven’t found it yet.

  • jeffree

    @Caassandra: Thank you for Christ-like post. Your love for Jesus shines through! I am sure YHWH is well-pleased with your spreading of Christian kindness & tolerance.

  • james_from_the_great_city_of_cambridge

    @Cassandra: I never denied you your right to speak…but I also have a right to call you out on your religious nonsense. That’s how free speech works honey…you get to speak, I get to rebut, you get to rebut my rebut….

    I said butt….:)

  • james_from_the_great_city_of_cambridge

    @alan brickman: That “freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from responsiblity” bullshit is the left’s equivalent of the right-wing’s anti-pornography spiels. In other words, the right says the exact same thing in trying to suppress porn and the left is now saying that same thing to suppress anti-gay speech. It’s too bad that both sides don’t really understand what free speech is…free speech means letting terrible people like neo-nazi’s speak. But you Alan, are allowed to rebut what a neo-nazi says as well because you have the same protections they have. Stop being afraid and trying to restrict ugly speech…it’s going to come back to bite you in the ass sooner or later (depending on a judge’s political leanings, he could easily find that a gay pride parade is offensive speech and ban it in more conservative areas of the country.) Best for thinking people not to go down this road…just be thankful that ALL SPEECH IS ALLOWED, OFFENSIVE OR NOT! (The only restrictions are that you can’t make false claims like yelling fire in a crowded theatre that’s not on fire.)


    I work at an LGBT non-profit — our whole focus is canvassing, and our field team does it tirelessly — but there was nothing more inspiring for that work than traveling this weekend to the Pride Parade in Chicago. My travel partner and I admitted to each other on the drive back that we both had moments of being really choked up by the number of people, gay and straight, and boundless energy and sheer joy of the crowd (I’m tearing up a little now just thinking about it). It was awe-inspiring, and we all need a break in the constant work for some fun, and some proof the tide is turning. Thank you for bringing up the vital point about needing each other — drawing the inspiration and energy from each other to keep trudging slowly forward — and I’ve decided today is the day I stop apologizing for thinking such “corny” thoughts.

  • Draekz

    I agree with Reed. Gay Pride USED to be what you describe. PRIDE is no longer that in most places…

    Its a COMMERCIAL/MONEY MAKING extravaganza that has little do to with “Pride” and much more to do with selling underwear/sex toys.

    Don’t kid yourself about why PRIDE is still around in 2010 in North America (I am NOT speaking about Pride parades in any other country, like the one you mentioned, I am specifically talking about North America)

    I’m gay, but I’m not a PRIDE PARADE gay. I want people to see me for who I REALLY AM, not see me as a S/M Leather muscle bear showing off too much in public making a mockery of LGBT people everywhere.

    I am ashamed of Pride Parades that happen today. They are NOTHING like the Pride parades I marched in the 90’s where respectable people were actually fightning for rights and equality…


  • mykelb

    @DR: We will never have a happy balance because heterosexist supremacy will always oppress us. So get over worrying about what the bigots think and get on with your own life. FUCK THE BIGOTS. We will crush them with the Constitution eventually in the courtroom.

  • DR


    I didn’t mention the heterosexuals, Mykel, you did (and I certainly don’t agree with any of your pseudo-intellectual claptrap; if you think that all of our problems as a community are directly related to the bad heterosexuals, I pity you).

    The balance of which I speak is from within our own community. What’s the point of having a Pride day and then doing nothing else for the rest of the year? What’s the point of having a Pride day celebration and trying to encourage folks to “get involved” and then not providing the opportunities to be involved in anything?

    Pride needs to be more than just a party. It needs to be more than just a few hours outside doing nothing of any great import except wondering which lube company will sponsor it next year. And the groups who show up need to actually follow up with those who sign up, not just take names and hide the sign-up sheets until next year.

  • sfsilver

    Ok I’m going to try to find something positive out of this suggestion. Sorry but the “No more Pride” suggestion is a no starter, BUT what about instituting a new day, some kind of national day of outreach and lobbying for LGBT issues. Or maybe we adjust the already existing National Coming Out Day into a highly organized day of door to door canvassing and personal contact that he talks about. He’s right that person to person contact is the key to change. It’s a worthy goal, and frankly we’re only ever go to actually win over hearts and minds with that kind of effort. Why not focus a day for these activities? Let’s not get hung up on the Pride day part of what is a really good idea.

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