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Neo-Nazi Presence Casts Lasting Shadow at Detroit Pride

Taylor Barry

Posted on June 9, 2019 23:36

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June 8th was a sheer lapse of any political progression.

On June 6th, we celebrated the 75th anniversary of D-Day, honoring the Allied landings throughout the beaches of Normandy to combat Hitler’s Nazi soldiers along the Western front. Two days later semi-armed members of the National Socialist Movement (NSM), one of the country’s largest neo-Nazi gangs, had police escorts as they marched beneath swastikas through the Detroit Pride Parade.

Police wore rainbow hearts as NSM members chanted ‘Sieg Heil’ and ‘white power’ within the safety of a blue uniformed barricade, while those attending the parade in celebration were pushed back. And there is no understandable reconciliation of shift in mentality. 

The annual Pride parades began in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots that began on June 28th, 1969, considered the event that led to the gay liberation movement; to remember those who were deemed illegal for expressing their true identities. 

Pride is feeling the freedom of being able to walk through the streets, without fear of physical and emotional retaliation from a blatantly ignorant, privileged, and homophobic opposition. A day of pure autonomy to be able to express an identity often repressed out of self-protection, an expression of both self and external love.

In queer theory there is the idea of mourning and loss in response to never being able to truly be oneself. If heteronormativity is the established space, queer bodies are disadvantaged in finding a comfortable fit. The Cultural Politics of Emotions, by Sara Ahmed, delves further into the idea of grief and melancholia as not inherently negative if the memories and past bring one comfort; if queerness is given a space to be tolerated and recognized rather than dismissed.

But the display in Detroit shows the evolution the country needs, to create inclusive spaces. Seventy-five years ago, soldiers fought to defeat the Nazi army. Fifty years ago protesters fought police for the decriminalization of queer lifestyles.  June 8th was a sheer lapse of any political progression.

There has been zero response from Detroit city officials and the Federal government, with the silence increasingly deafening. Barely entering the second week of June, it is hard to predict what will happen for the remainder of the month; will those who align their beliefs with NSM feel more empowered to counter-protest, or will it incite allies to rally stronger around the LGBTQIA community.

The continued stripping of LGBTQIA rights under the Trump administration alarms advocates, due to a lack of uniformity within procedures to track hate crime data between districts and states. This lack of viable data makes it harder to properly train police forces and community leaders, especially when considering four fatal shootings of LGBTQIA persons in just two weeks.

As allies, it is important to realize the LGBTQIA experience falls not under an umbrella, but into intricate pieces of intersectionality of race, class, age, gender, and sexual orientation, creating a complex, unique experience dependent of each individual. June is Pride. A reconciliation of societal regression for those who fought and suffered before us.

Taylor Barry

Posted on June 9, 2019 23:36

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Source: Al Jazeera

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