LGBTQ+ Pride and YIMBY Prejudice

by on June 23, 2022 · 6 comments

in Civil Rights, San Diego

Image from Twitter user @bubbathefish posted on 6/18/22

By Mat Wahlstrom

June is Pride Month, commemorating the Stonewall riots in June 1969, when lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other sexual and gender nonconforming (LGBTQ+) persons fought back against police violence and state oppression.

Considered the formal beginning of the ‘gay rights’ movement, Pride is first and foremost about visibility — which is why the main event of every Pride celebration is a parade.

But since everything gets co-opted under capitalism, June is also the month when corporations post rainbow versions of their logos, in the hopes that this gesture will get them noticed, and hopefully translate into more sales or favorable brand awareness.

The commercialization of Pride has been a contentious topic for years, with Pride committees routinely facing criticism over the extent to which they either have or appear to have “sold out.”

Major businesses swell the ranks of Pride parades with contingents and floats that often have more to do with marketing than solidarity. And no wonder: the Pride parades in many cities are often the largest of annual civic events.

As Pride parades and festivities have grown larger and more complicated, the groups organizing them often start to behave more and more like businesses. So perhaps it’s to be expected when they don’t look too closely at who is willing to pony up the hundreds if not thousands of dollars for entrance fees required of parade participants and festival exhibitors.

This despite the fact that many of the corporations sponsoring and presenting in Pride events donate millions to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians. (One of them, mayoral and Circulate San Diego favorite, Deloitte, gave over $840K last year to political action campaigns with a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign.)

Since the 1970s, we’ve heard about the term ‘green washing,’ that is, companies or groups claiming initiatives as environmentally friendly that are actually damaging to the environment.

Likewise, this is ‘rainbow washing,’ claiming acceptance of LGBTQ+ persons to slap a coat of legitimacy on policies or positions which are either inimical or unrelated to any actual benefit of those who so identify.

And on behalf of developer interests, those who self-describe as YIMBY are appropriating buckets of it.

In 2008, a “Legalize Gay” campaign benefited organizations fighting to repeal Prop 8.

In 2018, YIMBY Dems of San Diego appropriated it, creating buttons with the tag, “Legalize Housing,” under a rainbow silhouette of buildings, to support their lobbying in Sacramento.

Also in 2018, social media exploded with posts of the slogan, ‘Be Gay, Do Crime,’ which “was pretty much adopted as the unofficial slogan during San Francisco Pride” that year.

A few days ago, a municipal homeless advisor and a gay man arrogated that slogan to sell T-shirts with the phrase, “Build Homes, Ban Cars, Be Gay” — with all proceeds going to bicycle advocacy organizations not unhoused or LGBTQ+ causes.

It’s a variation on the ‘No true Scotsman’ fallacy, or the appeal to purity.

Here’s how it works: A person self-identifies as LGBTQ+. That person endorses an agenda unrelated to sexual or gender identity, such as YIMBY. But then that agenda is claimed as pro-LGBTQ+ *because* that person endorses it. Consequently, anyone who disagrees or opposes that agenda must be either anti-LGBTQ+ or not one themselves.

One need only look at how so many of our local electeds self-identify as LGBTQ+ and proclaim that their pro-YIMBY agenda is about ‘equity’ rather than enrichment. As has been pointed out in previous articles, the YIMBY agenda is simply pro-development and antithetical to alleviating poverty and providing low-income housing. The LGBTQ+ status of those advocating for the YIMBY position does not on its face validate that agenda.

What’s worse, those who self-identify as LGBTQ+ but challenge YIMBY’s pretensions to economic justice are erased and subjected to abuse. The tactics of YIMBY advocates devolve into ad hominem attacks and lies, the rhetoric of people unwilling to defend their position with reasoned arguments or respectful conversation.

Let me be clear: everyone who is LGBTQ+ — or any other identity — has the right to support any policy or position they want. The issue is when this right isn’t recognized in kind, and ideas are not considered on their own merits but judged on the basis of who is expressing them.

Yes, identities are connected to forms of privilege and oppression as specific as we are unique. But we need to recognize when identities are reifications of class, and that class is the one hierarchy that everyone is forced into.

We need to realize that the only persons who win when we jockey for position among ourselves are the wealthy and those who act in their interests to sow division. Because if we’re too distracted to focus on the interests we have in common, we aren’t working together to accomplish the material conditions to effect real change.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We can’t solve our problems unless there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power.”

But until then, for those who celebrate, Happy Corporate Acceptance Month!


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page June 23, 2022 at 2:23 pm

Once again, another well-written thoughtful piece, Mat. Spot on.


Mat Wahlstrom June 23, 2022 at 2:33 pm

Much appreciated. Glad to be back after hiatus.


Chris June 23, 2022 at 2:43 pm

I know I brought up “generational” divides before, but again I think this applies to large degree. Most people I know under the age of 40 who identify as “progressive” truly do advocate for building more homes. Build up as opposed to build out as they belive the best way to maintain open space is for more density in areas that are already developed. I think they think that over time as more and more homes go in, be it apartments or condos prices will eventually go down. I always point out there are lots of units sitting over half empty (that have been there for several years) because not enough can afford them (or want to pay so much for so small a space) so they are not attracting new tenants. So yes I think younger progressives have a different view of how they’d like to see the future than older.


Chris June 23, 2022 at 2:45 pm

As for LGBTQ, regardless of adversity they deal with they can still have all the human flaws of anyone else.


Mat Wahlstrom June 23, 2022 at 2:58 pm

A previous draft had the line, “I think there should be more to equality than be able to prove we can be just as corrupt as normative people,” but I’d written something similar before. Looks like I should have kept it.


FrankF June 24, 2022 at 8:41 am

Build Homes, Ban Cars, Be Gay?

Dang. What happened to being inclusive? LOL.


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