Pride is one of Catholicism’s “Seven Deadly Sins” (not to be confused with the “Seven Deadly Gay Sins”). So it makes sense that LGBTQ Pride Month should be followed by LGBTQ Wrath Month.
Lots of folks make this joke. But Anthony Oliveira — a Toronto-based writer and university professor who recently wrote an article about LGBTQ Wrath Month for The Washington Post — thinks it’s a worthwhile idea.
After all, queer people have taken the sin of Pride and turned it into a virtue. Now we have pride in ourselves despite constantly being told to feel shame. So why not do the same with our anger now that we’re constantly being told to appreciate how good we have it?
LGBTQ Wrath Month is an antidote to Pride Month’s corporatism and sloganeering
While corporations and fair-weather allies have increasingly joined the inclusive Pride Month love-fest, Oliveira thinks it’s easy to slap rainbow colors on for a month and repeat empty slogans like “Love is love.” It’s much harder to sponsor displays of queer anger that acknowledge that no, our love isn’t “just like everybody else’s.”
“I like that Wrath Month is not recognizable by these liberal capitalistic forces,” Oliveira tells Hornet. “You can’t say ‘Love Wins’ during Wrath Month.”
The bank across from the LGBTQ bookstore where Oliveira works peeled off their rainbow decorations the very next day after Pride Month. He hasn’t heard them or any corporations speak out against Trump’s transgender military ban, the anti-LGBTQ momentum on the Supreme Court or “a vice president so opposed to policies benefiting queer people that the president has joked he wants ‘to hang them all.'”
“You have co-opted our pride,” his column stated, “but you cannot have our rage.”
What does support during Pride month even mean if it evaporates the day after?
And why repeat “Love is love” when it’s so obvious that queer and straight love are experienced in such vastly different ways?
“Unlike yours,” Oliveira wrote in his article, “ours is a love that has cost us everything. It has, in living memory, sent us into exterminations, into exorcisms, into daily indignities and compromises. We cannot hold jobs with certainty nor hands without fear; we cannot be sure when next the ax will fall with the stroke of a pen.”
When asked to elaborate, Oliveira says “‘Love is love,’ is the shortest possible elemental way to say, ‘If someone tells me they’re gay, I don’t care.’ It’s the ‘I don’t see color’ of queerness.”
He says, people should acknowledge the difference rather than suggesting there’s no difference at all.
“There is a difference,” he says. “There’s a history and there’s a fight that’s ongoing. ‘Love is love’ is designed to distract from that. It’s designed to pretty color and a rainbow, and [queer love] is not always a rainbow.”
Do LGBTQ people really want Wrath Month?
Many queer people these days don’t seem interested in angry protests or rocking the boat. Many see political confrontation as divisive, unnecessary, counterproductive or alienating to would-be allies. Many are more interested in getting married, having a nuclear family, joining the military, getting corporate job security rather than abolishing prisons, protesting war, legalizing sex work or fighting for civil rights.
And a riot? God forbid. Someone might get hurt. Can’t we all just be civil?
“There’s a strand of queer culture that is seeking homeostasis,” Oliveira explains, “that sees being gay as the worst thing that ever happened to them. And they think if they make it as much possible like being straight, they’ll be fine. That tendency is quite easily co-opted by banks and car companies. You can create a very anodyne, innocuous version of queerness that is basically just the same as [hetero life] with a slight twist.”
While we’ve come a long way in LGBTQ rights, you can still be fired in 28 states just for being LGBTQ and the Trump administration says it’s okay to deny business or medical care to queer people because Jesus told you so. Meanwhile, police still publish the names of gay and bisexual men targeted in public park raids and the Toronto police blames the gay community for letting a longtime serial murderer of gay men roam free for so long.
Rather than embracing “Love is love” as a sloganeering tactic, Oliveira says, he thinks LGBTQ people should actively fight against it as a false congruency.
“The system is not designed for us,” Oliveira says, “and it is pretending that it is.”
How should queers celebrate LGBTQ Wrath Month?
Oliveira thinks Wrath Month is all about civil disobedience — “To be doing what John Lewis said is ‘getting into good kinds of trouble,'” he says — and to let nothing stand that offends our dignity.
This doesn’t mean radicals queers have to turn against moderate queers. In fact, he thinks there’s a growing recognition that the status quo is no longer sustainable and that everyone, including queer people, are increasingly polarizing to the far-left and far-right.
“That sorting is going to happen anyway and it’s a conversation we, as queer people, have to have too,” he says. “The job is not to fight our own, the job is to start doing the work and let our own see that that is something they could be part of.”
As far as the Wrath Month, mascot, he says, “I tweeted after the (Washington Post) piece came out that the first Wrath Month parade was Achilles dragging the body of Hector around the gates of Troy after Hector killed his boyfriend (Patroclus). To me, that should be the icon of Wrath Month.”
He says, “Let the Dykes on Bikes go first and then after that, you have the Achilles’ chariot dragging a heterosexual offender behind him.”
What do you think of LGBTQ Wrath Month?
This story was originally published on July 14, 2018