Response to “Pride in a Time of Riots and Plague”

I’m glad to see the Society recognizing Pride Month.  While the psychoanalytic community still has work to do regarding its understanding of sexuality and gender, it has come a long way.  I am grateful to the likes of Dennis Shelby who pioneered the way for those like me who have latterly found our way into the psychoanalytic community.  And I am also glad to see our movement and Black Lives Matter put in the same thought. That said, I have some concerns about Dennis’s letter.

Lest we forget, it was trans women leading the way at Stonewall, although Dennis does not acknowledge transpeople as part of the Rainbow Nation until his last sentence.  And what does it mean to call Stonewall a riot rather than a rebellion or even a protest?  A “riot” is what the people in power often call the actions of oppressed people who just can’t take it any more.

Referring to the largely peaceful protests that have swept the Western World in response to George Floyd’s murder as “rioting” is to fall into a racist trope.  Black people’s legitimate anger is often presented by Whites as being irrational and out of control. Yes, there has been looting and vandalism, though there is also evidence that it was often instigated by Whites, some of whom have White Nationalist affiliations. And there has been mayhem at some of these demonstrations in response to a militarized police using brutal tactics on protesters.

While I too hope for success for the Black Lives Matter movement, Dennis seems to be forgetting our debt to the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s.  Rather than BLM hopefully following in our successful footsteps, we should acknowledge that we stand on the shoulders of the Civil Rights movement, which inspired many other Liberation movements.

As a member of the Society, I am concerned that this statement of Gay Pride, with its limitations, is our public face and as such will have negative repercussions.

-Theo Pintzuk, LCSW, Society Member and Candidate at Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute