Pride Month is always, without fail, eventful—not only for queer and trans people celebrating, but because of the absolute clown car of bad takes, bad content, and bad-faith actions from people looking to cash in on the LGBTQ experience. At the beginning of June, we highlighted a few brands that should take a long, hard look in the mirror before posting “Happy Pride!” for likes, given that they do or have done demonstrable harm to the LGBTQ community. (This year, it’s been made worse by the fact that it’s happening at the same time that extremely cruel anti-trans legislation is being enacted around the U.S.)
Obviously, though, those entities weren’t the only ones who showed their asses over the past month, so we’ve done the critical service of collecting all of the cringiest, corniest, stupidest things that happened during Pride 2021—just in case anyone thought the year off from IRL celebrating taught anyone a lesson about decorum or nuance.
There were endless debates about kink at Pride.
The month kicked off with a lot of exhausting discourse about whether or not kink belongs at Pride, which some people feel should be “family-friendly” because, oh no, what if a child saw someone wearing a leather puppy mask? (Children, more than anyone else, understand the concept of make-believe and wearing costumes, but OK!!!)
While this debate happens basically every year, this time around it borrowed the language of accessibility and consent, and turned into yet another 2021 generational war, with Gen Z blamed for the anti-kink, anti-sex sentiment. And while it kind of felt like a classic “some random person Tweeted something and now everyone is yelling and it’s turning into a Whole Thing” scenario, lots of people jumped in to articulate exactly why kink belongs at Pride. In the end, NYC Pride, at least, was mostly virtual anyway.
After Carl Nassib came out as gay, the NFL decided to follow suit.
“Mom? Dad? I’m football.”
The director of Luca, Disney’s film about two young merboys with a secret, did a big “no homo.”
Disney, a company with a history of regularly claiming slightly queer-coded characters are the brand’s “first” gay character, went in the opposite direction for their new animated film Luca. Despite the movie’s very, very queer undertones, the director recently said any ties to Call Me By Your Name—which also happens to be a coming of age story about two young men, set in the Italian countryside, and directed by someone literally named Luca—were just a coincidence, because the movie is decidedly straight: “It truly goes without saying that we really willfully went for a pre-pubescent story. This is all about platonic friendships.” Because, you know, no tween has ever, in the history of the world, known they are queer or trans.
IKEA made fake couches.
While IKEA’s idea to conceptualize love seats based on different Pride flags is cute in theory, people were quickly transfixed by one specific design. Dubbed “the bisexual couch,” it had “NOBODY BELIEVES YOU”—a reference to bi erasue—written on it in huge text. The text, coupled with the fact that the couch was covered in pink, blue, and purple disembodied 3-D hands, gave the couch a vaguely menacing aura.
The line was actually taken from a spoken word poem written by poet Brian Lanigan, who is bisexual and was featured alongside the couch on IKEA’s website, but who did not design the couch himself. In fact, it’s unclear what relationship many of the folks featured alongside the couches have with the couches, or IKEA—the couches were actually created by four outside designers, one of whom identifies as an ally, not a member of the queer community.
Colton Underwood’s image rehabilitation tour made for some… interesting headlines.
Former Bachelor contestant Colton Underwood came out in April 2021—less than a year after reports broke that his ex-girlfriend Cassie Randolph filed a restraining order against him for stalking and harassment. Still, Underwood seems to have survived these revelations with his public image mostly intact based on the positive, fluffy press he’s received over the past month. The most glaring example was an E! Headline that’s honestly beyond parody: “Colton Underwood Shares the Amazon Finds That Help Him Show Off His Pride,” featuring items like epsom salts, a white noise machine, and a FitBit. Love wins!
Straight people showed their asses by dunking on the looooooong line of people waiting to get into notorious Brooklyn bar Union Pool for its once-monthly queer event.
After someone posted a video of the line to Twitter, lots of people decided to weigh in with variations of “lmao WHAT kind of LOSER would wait in line to go to UNION POOL?!?!?!” But the line was for Pat, a once-a-month event for queer people, and specifically women and non-binary people. It was the first post-vax Pat, and it was happening during Pride.
Given that there are just 21 lesbian bars in the entire goddamn U.S.—which, hm, might sort of explain the long line!!!—it would have been a fantastic moment for everyone who always has their pick of bars to keep their thoughts to themselves.
Always an ally, Kim Kardashian West celebrated Pride with a screenshot of her character in Kim Kardashian: Hollywood!.
The Kardashian self-promotion machine never stops churning out ways for the KKW extended universe to insert themselves into the conversation—and of course Pride Month is no exception.
“I love how there are so many ways to express yourself in my game!” reads the tweet. It’s unclear based on the avatar of Kim what the “many ways” to express yourself are, and the degree to which they involve non-normative gender expressions. Does she just mean you can… have a rainbow flag behind your already existing avatar? Unless the game allows your character to show off its preferred hanky, this is just opportunistic and silly.
Wendy Williams implied Da Brat hit on her, then attempted to center herself in Da Brat’s coming out journey.
During a recent interview with rapper Da Brat, talk show host Wendy Williams whipped out several classic “I’m a straight woman making your sexuality about me” moves. First, she implied that Da Brat once hit on her (leading Da Brat to clarify that she texted her because she suspected Wendy had “no real friends” and was worried about her). Then she asked if Da Brat would be into her if she were gay (to which Da Brat was, again, like, No) or if she were single (also a no). Finally, Wendy implied she played a critical role in Da Brat’s coming out process—which Da Brat also shut down.
The NYPD was soooo sad that its officers were banned from Pride… but then showed up to kick a bunch of queer people’s asses after Pride anyway.
In May, New York City’s Heritage of Pride board made the apparently controversial decision to ban NYPD officers from marching at its annual Pride parade in uniform, a move that pissed off all the right people, including the New York Times Editorial Board, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the rabid dogs running the city’s police unions. (Defector’s Lauren Thiesen deftly pointed out how absurd these claims of discrimination were in a stellar “op-ed” about the “struggles” of being born a cop.)
Obviously, claims that cops need to be allowed to express their queer and police identities at the same time ignores the well-established fact that the first “Pride” event was a riot in response to police violence. But NYPD officers were happy to provide a more contemporary reminder of why they shouldn’t be welcome at Pride They showed up the evening of the day of NYC’s biggest Pride celebration decked out in full riot gear and proceeded to pepper-spray and arrest marchers who were hanging out and cooling off in the park—a scene that echoed police violence at the 2020 Queer Liberation March in the midst of the George Floyd uprising.
We can only assume the NYPD wanted to commemorate the original Pride by reenacting the part where cops beat the shit out of a bunch of queer people.
And other cops (the ones over at ICE and the FBI) celebrated on social media, which absolutely nobody asked for.
The FBI has an inexplicable, running history of throwing up annual Pride posts on Twitter—which is especially interesting given the agency’s history of surveilling queer activists in the 1960s (a move the it never officially addressed or apologized for). And ICE… really cute graphic, guys. Did you celebrate by taking the month off from interning and deporting queer and trans immigrants, or what?
As corporate “allies” debuted rainbow avatars, anti-trans legislation continued apace.
Thanks to the coordinated efforts of bigots across the U.S., dozens of states have introduced anti-trans bills this year, and some have already passed. At the beginning of June, Florida became the eighth state to ban transgender girls and women from participating in girl’s and women’s sports teams in secondary school and college. And on June 24, the Ohio House added an amendment that would ban transgender women from competing in women’s sports to a Senate bill that would allow college athletes to profit off their own name, image, and likeness. Love is love is love, but god forbid some trans teens want to play a little basketball.