Pride is Not Just a Parade…It’s a Protest
Pride month is still here, and this is a reminder that Black Trans Lives Matter, that Pride is a Protest. This year, parades, parties, celebrations, and speaking events all over the world have been canceled due to COVID-19. In addition, violence against our Black and Brown communities has come to the top of the national conversation while and protests for change and justice have taken over many cities and towns.
People are angry, hurt, and want change. This is a great time to remember that Pride is not just the month my kids are thrilled to get rainbow beads from gorgeous drag queens at parades and to see themselves, family, and friends represented and celebrated. Pride started with Black and Brown queer folx rioting against violence and police brutality and overreach.
On June 28th, 1969, police raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. Police regularly raided gay bars and used force and brutality on the occupants. This time, the bargoers fought back against the violence and what resulted was a bloody, messy battle where queens and queers and allies took back the streets and communities and said NO MORE.
Sidenote: Did you know there is a children’s book that shares the history of the Stonewall uprising in a way that kids can understand? Check it out in THIS LIST, along with about a hundred other awesome books!
Present at the riots and protests were Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, two transgender women of color who were active forces for change in the community. They also fought for their rights in the LBG community, as many saw trans and queer lives as a separate issue and distraction from the causes that gays and lesbians were working for. At the Pride March in 1973, Johnson was repeatedly stopped from speaking. When she got the microphone, she yelled, “If it wasn’t for the drag queen, there would be no gay liberation movement. We’re the front-liners.” A turning point? Hardly. She was booed off the stage.
Johnson continued activist work until her body was found floating in a river in 1992, an alleged suicide, although the case was reopened in 2012 and is still open.
Transgender people still fight for their rights in the LGBT community, among radical feminists, in the Black and Brown communities, and in society.
This is all relevant. I promise.
What we are seeing today is not new. The protests? Not new. They’re part of a revolution, not lawless riots. They’re the result of people of color wanting to LIVE. Black trans women are getting the messaging loud and clear that they are expendable in our society. They’re still being murdered. Their lives and deaths are often a nightmare because of what we allow to happen to them by what we teach our kids, what we tell ourselves about worth and morality and identity and race. We allow their deaths. We are complicit.
As much as people are waking up to the racism that exists within the systems that surround us, many are still blind to how these racist systems can be exceptionally discriminatory to the Black and Brown trans community. There are “gay and trans panic” laws that protect perpetrators in these circumstances. They’re dead-named and misgendered in their death notices and in the media.
They are not receiving protection under the law, adequate healthcare, respect in hospital and clinic settings. They are beaten and sexually assaulted regularly.
It is more dangerous to be a black transgender woman than almost any other identity.
When we are fighting for the rights of BIPOC, we need to be SHOUTING our support and demanding that the lives of transgender POC are protected, from childhood through adulthood. Whether that is fighting for their right to be employed, use school restrooms, get healthcare, to be safe from police brutality, to be protected and respected whether they are teachers, janitors, doctors, or sex workers. We need to protect their right to live.
Black trans lives matter.
They have fought and died for the right to exist in a society that is allowing their annihilation. No matter what your race, your identity, your orientation, speak up and fight for the lives of trans people of color. They have historically been on the front lines, fighting against police brutality, discrimination, unequal rights under the law, and community violence. They fight for you, too. From Marsha P. Johnson to the present-day activists, black and brown trans women are out fighting for rights, begging you to let them live.
Learn more about it. Educate yourself. Teach your children the value of inclusion, tolerance, and activism. Refuse to be your child’s first bully. Teach your children BIPOC and queer history.
A protest is an action. Pride is a protest.
“Sometimes we are blessed with being able to choose the time, arena, and manner of our revolution, but usually we must battle where we are standing.” -Audre Lorde