You Can Keep Your Zip Line: The EQT Takeover of Pittsburgh Pride

Every summer, the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh organizes Pittsburgh’s Pride Festival and March downtown. The Delta Foundation recently announced in a press conference with the EQT Foundation, Mayor Peduto, and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald that this year’s festival and march will be expanded and renamed EQT Equality March.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with EQT, it is a natural gas and petroleum exploration and pipeline company headquartered in downtown Pittsburgh. This is a corporation in the business of destroying our environment, contaminating our water, and donating tens of thousands of dollars to anti-LGBT Republicans. And now, thanks to EQT’s Foundation, Pittsburgh Pride will have a 300-foot mobile zipline.

This could be us!

I know what you’re thinking! The one and only thing that Pittsburgh Pride needed in 2017 was a 300-foot mobile zip line. The Delta Foundation and EQT really have their fingers on the pulse of the queer and trans community in Pittsburgh.

But let me take a step back and explain what the real issue is here. This is not just about EQT. It’s about the corporate takeover of Pride in Pittsburgh and around the country.

If you’ve been to Pride anywhere in the past several years, you know that corporate involvement in Pride is not new. The Delta Foundation, led by privileged members of our community, has allowed corporations to takeover Pride at the expense of marginalized queer and trans communities who still need Pride to be a radical demonstration for their rights. This is also not the first time that the Delta Foundation’s privileged leaders have made bad decisions: from inviting Iggy Azalea to perform to implying that assimilation to heteronormativity and the gender binary is how our movement “wins.” The Delta Foundation has time and time again shown that they represent white gay men and a non-intersectional gay agenda, rather than the majority of queer and trans people in Pittsburgh.

Allowing corporations to influence Pride takes away from its purpose. Pride used to be a march for queer and trans people’s right to exist. It was a radical political demonstration that belonged to the queer community. Although it has never been perfect, Pride in the United States now feels like a way for corporations to advertise directly to white, middle class gay men and a straight liberal demographic that thinks marching in a Pride parade and waving a rainbow flag is the same as supporting all queer and trans people.

In this case it is EQT, but dozens of corporations have tried to use queer pride to make a profit while doing nothing to actually support queer and trans people.

When trans women of color are targeted and murdered in our city, has EQT stepped up and donated resources to organizations that support them? When queer and trans workers are not afforded a living wage, has Walmart stepped up and raised their wages to support them and their families? When the rights of queer immigrants and refugees are infringed upon by the new administration, will American Apparel donate resources to organizing efforts to fight it? All of these corporations have participated in Pride events, but the answer to these questions will most likely always be no. Corporate support for Pride does not come from a moral commitment to justice and liberation, it is always driven by corporations’ need for profit and it takes away from our movement’s ability to become more intersectional.

In Trump’s America, the queer and trans community does not need corporate resources for a 300 foot zip line (not that we ever needed it before Trump, or ever). We need safe spaces where queer and trans people can come together and demonstrate, with pride, to defend our rights and fight for the liberation of the most vulnerable people in our community. It’s the Delta Foundation’s responsibility to make Pittsburgh Pride an inclusive, safe community event, not to raise corporate money for zip lines.

Now more than ever, the EQT Equality March and corporate control of Pride is exactly what we must combat. The queer and trans community everywhere should be doubling down on our efforts to make our movement more intersectional and to stand with all progressive causes. We should be focusing on equity and justice rather than on the old definition of equality for gays and lesbians that centers the most privileged. Even if this is simply a misguided attempt to make Pride bigger and better in 2017, it needs to be said this decision made by the Delta Foundation does nothing to help queer and trans people in Pittsburgh. EQT is not our ally, and their involvement in Pride ruins what should be a time for us to come together, celebrate, and resist.

This article originally appeared on QueerPgh.com. This article is preserved as a part of the Q Archives project. Please consider donating to help preserve Pittsburgh’s Queer history.