Pinkwashing Is Not The Way Forward For The Queer Movement


The ‘pinkwashing’ of Pride themed ATM’s in New Zealand by queer activists is about the privilege of heterosexual men, rather than the commercialisation of Pride, says Rob Buchanan.


Most LGBT people are cognisant of how Pride festivals across the globe have occasionally been hijacked by commercial interests in an attempt to appropriate LGBT identities and target us as yet another market for their products. Last week a group of activists in New Zealand called Queers Against Injustice vandalised Pride-coloured ATM machines in Auckland, throwing pink paint at them to protest what they called the commercialisation of the Pride festival there.

The so-called ‘GAYTMs’ were installed Australian and New Zealander bank, ANZ.

However the statement from Queers Against Injustice rapidly began to show the group’s true colours, and they are definitely less the rainbow of Pride and tolerance than the red and black of a particular brand of reactivist anarchism.

“Associating queer politics with personal banking within a gentrified area reduces the queer subject to a bourgeois, cis-gender, white, male subject, and in doing so reproduces many of the intersecting injustices by which queer subjects are marginalized,” they statement said. “We sought to draw attention to the lack of representation of bodies that counter the racist, classist and cis-biased nature of Pride.”

Oh, dear, where to begin? One gets the distinct impression that perhaps there may be some chip and pins on the shoulders of Queers Against Injustice concerning on white heterosexual men. Or perhaps men in general.

The diatribe about the festivals in Oz and NZ being “racist, classist and cis-biased” makes them sound like Nuremburg rallies rather than celebrations of LGBT Pride. Would it be safe to say that perhaps that it’s fascists of a different kind whose opinions are being exposed here – PC Nazis who are maybe getting a little too uncomfortable with how comfortable and mainstream LGBT is becoming?

It’s a vaguely patronising insinuation that gay consumers are somehow passive cash cows being led to slaughter by evil bankers. One wonders how many employees of ANZ are LGBT?

The pink pound is a potent weapon and a powerful tool for demanding and then securing equal rights and dignity in employment and society for gay people. Queers Against Injustice seem to completely ignore the idea that we should actually be using our position of economic power to steer authorities and secure real, lasting change for LGBT people across the world.

But perhaps that’s less fun than chucking paint at ATMs and sulking.

The ultimate irony is that this vandalism was meant as an act of gay liberation rather than a frustrated tantrum, yet it came across as supremely boureogouis and is likely to alienate people.



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