What Would You Do If a Bank Gave You $60 Million to Throw a Pride Party?
Over the decades, Pride has evolved from a celebration of queer liberation to something all-too-predictable: a four-week period in June in which banks, burrito companies, and even the FBI awkwardly tweet out rainbow memes in solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community. Yes, we’re talking queer-identifying Bratz dolls and the 84-track compilation Now This Is What I Call Pride.
It’s not always necessarily bad, of course. Some of the content that has come out during this time actually rules, like Joel Kim Booster’s Fire Island, for example, or the new Muna album, which genuinely slaps all year round. This Pride, we are asking friends of GQ what they would do if their favorite corporate bank gave them 60 million dollars to celebrate their LGBTQIA+ community. Pride is, of course, should always be a continued rebellion and a fight for radical change, but it could also perhaps be a glorious excuse to spend someone else’s money.
Hannah Einbinder, actor
I would truly search gofundme for every single gender-affirming surgery/after-care page and max it out. Can you imagine? That would be my dream! If there was any money left over, I would also do a pride collab with doc martins. The brown high-top boots need to come in a platform, also both navy blue and forest green platforms. DOC, I GOT IDEAS, CALL ME!
Melissa King, Judge & Top Chef All-Stars Winner
If a corporate bank gave me $60 million to create an epic PRIDE campaign, I’d first start by donating several million to various LGBTQ+ organizations focused on youth and homelessness, as well as food shelters. Then I would build a multi-day pride festival on the beach or in a forest that would feel as if a food festival and an outdoor music festival had a baby. The festival will feature a variety of queer talents, icons and allies with performances by Lady Gaga, Madonna, Janelle Monae, Lil Nas, Hayley Kiyoko and more. It would support LGBTQ+ chefs and restaurants through culinary demos, seminars, and food truck activations. The festival would have a marketplace highlighting LGBTQ+ business owners, from leather workers to chest binder makers to hairstylists offering free cuts on-site so you can embrace your most authentic self. There would be commissioned art installations designed by queer artists spread throughout the festival like a mini burning man. The queer artworks would have a life beyond the festival and be on display at public parks, museums, and business establishments. Along with concerts, there’d be various stages with ballroom battles hosted by Billy Porter, drag contests hosted by Ru Paul, and curated fashion shows by top designers throughout the festival experience. There would be a tent of hosted workshops with available therapy & mental health resources. All performances would be live steamed broadcasted with call to action of donating to LGBTQ+ charities. The corporate bank will need to give us a few more million, so we can create the same experience in a different country each month to continue celebrating LGBTQ businesses and talents around the world all year round.
We would donate the $60 million immediately, ideally to someone we trusted with regards to distributing mutual aid…because it’d be pretty gross to spend $60 million dollars on a billboard. This question did make us laugh, though.
Nick Holiday, designer
I would throw a party with my boyfriend Kevin Abstract, and we would do a collab together with both of our brands and throw the coolest party, probably in LA or NY. Holiday and Boyfriend are really like the only gay-owned streetwear brands I can think of. No Shade! I need to find more; I hope your readers put me on! But that representation is really important to me, so we want to celebrate that and be loud about it. And, of course, I would hire Johnny Knoxville to host the party and say, “Hi, I’m Johnny Knoxville, and welcome to Pride month !”
Grace Kuhlenschmidt, comedian
I would start a lesbian bar chain. I do love the main lesbian bars I go to in New York like Cubbyhole and Gingers, but is there even one in Los Angeles? It’s important! I was listening to this gay historian dude, and he was talking about how there are more gay bars in San Fransisco than there are lesbian bars in the whole world. That’s horrible! Queer spaces that are not cis-man-dominated are so important. My favorite bar in Chicago is this bar called Berlin. It’s queer-dominated. There are so many men that are dominated by all men. I don’t feel welcome in those spaces. I remember a few years ago, before I started having any presence online, I went to a ton of drag shows, and I would get looks from gay dudes that would be like, “why are you here?” It’s so interesting that now that I have such a gay following because those same people are now “obsessed” with me. “Like, what the fuck? You don’t care about lesbians until they’re literally serving you!”
Devon Francis, chef
I’d have a party AND fold it into a pride campaign because I refuse to have to choose one or the other, especially if a corporation is footing the bill. So the party would be at Golden Eye in Jamaica, and I would invite my friends from ConnekJA, a queer Caribbean collective based in Jamaica; and Papi Juice, my friends who throw incredible parties for the queer community, to organize a really major three-day, beach party but film it MTV Spring Break-style. You remember the runway looks, thirsty vacationers, and water guns. Do people even do that anymore? The campaign would be for the launch of my company, Yardy World’s, a new line of ice cream flavors all sourced in the islands and specifically employing agricultural workers and folks from the queer Caribbean diaspora. I think that campaigns need to take giving to the next level, which is not just giving a percentage of proceeds to queer Nonprofits but actually giving away equity and positions of power to queer people. If any corporations reading this want to invest in that. Hit me up!
Peter Smith, comedian
I would either just get it all in cash and hand it out, or I’d hire a lawyer to investigate police budgets. I’d also throw a party with an open bar.
Girl in Red, singer/songwriter
I want to buy this really cool building in my hometown that [my town] wants to tear down. I would pick it up from the ground and fly it to a really cool location. I’m not sure if you can do that in reality, but if you have 60 million dollars, you can do anything at all. We don’t need any more parties.
Owen Thiele, actor
I would bring back that Halloween party I wasn’t invited to in high school …. Call of Booty. It sounded so fun. I would also pocket as much of the money as I can in honor of my personal hero Anna Delvey.
Willie Norris, designer
I would first assemble and pay a diverse, dynamic panel of NYC-based community leaders, entrepreneurs, and activists to help oversee the management and execution of this project. Together with the panel, we would identify 30-40 queer artists, designers, businesses, organizations, community programmers, publications, and non-profits to receive million-dollar fund disbursements. Each recipient would be provided with an on-call accountant and a financial strategist to help them put the money to work in the best way possible for them. I would establish a public fund for queer spaces to receive grants to make their events and locations more accessible for differently-abled people. We would have a massive, free, catered day party at the Great Lawn in Prospect Park with exquisite programming. Lina Bradford would DJ. Junior Mintt would perform. The campaign imagery would simply be an image of the itemized, text-only balance sheet of the fund recipients and disbursement for financial transparency.
Briana King, skater
I’d donate it all to Thrasher because skating is gay.
When we are putting together outfits, please don’t forget the icing on the cake. I’m not a huge fan…