Civic Rites and Civil Rights
Pride would be better treated as a religious festival like any other
I saw a Pride march for the first time this month. I was in Vienna for a weekend and happened to end up walking through it — twice, in fact. (Some might say that once is a coincidence etc.)
All the major corporations were represented, as were numerous political organisations, including the British Embassy, there in a little van, flying the flag.
‘Wir leben diversity equity & inclusion’ a huge float banner proclaimed, the perfect example of how the global language spreads the progressive faith. And it did, of course, have the strong feel of a religious festival. It is perhaps not a coincidence that Pride now takes place around the same time as Corpus Christi, the medieval Catholic feast which is traditionally celebrated in June with a parade. That tends to involve young girls walking around in white dresses, rather than skimpy rainbow-coloured numbers, but believers reveal themselves in different ways.
The religious nature of Pride was spelled out by Scott Alexander a few years ago in a post, ‘Gay Rites are Civil Rites’, comparing Catholicism, the American civic religion, and Pride. Observing a feast in central America, Alexander wrote:
This was around the time I was reading about cultural evolution, so I couldn’t help rehearsing some familiar conservative arguments. A shared religion binds people together. For a day, everyone is on the same side. That builds social trust and helps turn a city into a community. It was hard to argue with that. I’m no expert in Guatemala. I don’t even speak Spanish. But for a little while, everybody, old and young, rich or poor, whatever one Guatemalan political party is and whatever the other Guatemalan political party is, were caught up in the same great wave, swept together by the glory of the Easter narrative.