Long before Pride was a parade, and month-long celebration in June, it was political and cultural uprising. In fact, our modern day
LGBTQ movement was birthed on June 28, 1969, during the Stonewall Riots — which is cited as beginning after two trans women of color, Marsha "Pay It No Mind" Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, fought back against the New York Police Department's treatment of the LGBTQ community. Even prior the Stonewall Riots, throughout the 1960s, trans and queer women of color paved the way for what we today celebrate as Pride.
However, despite the historical beginnings of Pride as a riot, many of the contemporary Pride festivities have omitted the invaluable work of Johnson, Rivera, and other trans women of color. Moreover, as Pride has become a mainstream celebration in many cities, its more radical elements have been erased; many LGBTQ activists cite
corporate sponsorship and the presence of police at Pride parades and other celebrations as evidence of erasure. When a trans woman was arrested at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's Pride events and sent to a men's prison before being bailed out, the lack of action or coverage spurred outrage online, as the Philly Enquirer reported.
counter-protests and die-ins have been organized at Pride festivals across the U.S. to take a stand against the erasure of multiply-marginalized members of the LGBTQ community from Pride events. Protest is an effective means of spurring change, but there are other ways to make pride more intersectional. These seven activists weigh in on how to do it. 1 Devin Michael Lowe Devin Michael Lowe, an intersectional activist and actor, tells Bustle, "Businesses can be more inclusive during Pride month by providing trans-inclusive sensitivity training to their staff, to help better ensure that transgender patrons are treated with courtesy and respect. Too often trans folk are harassed and disrespected by bouncers and bartenders, as well as by the other patrons — despite the LGBT rights movement being built on the backs [of] trans women of color."
"There also needs to be more acknowledgment of, and respect for
nonbinary and gender-nonconforming identities at Pride events," he continues. "People need to understand that gender is just as fluid as sexuality, and the concept of a rigid gender binary is a colonialist construct that we must work to unlearn in order to not only be inclusive of Indigenous gender identities, but to be truly liberated people." 2 Rubén Angel Rubén Angel, a socio-cultural critic, writer, and co-host of the podcast Brown Bitter Femmes, tells Bustle, "We can improve our Pride month if we do away with the term 'inclusive' altogether, and instead focus on 'centering' marginalized people — specifically QTPOC [queer trans people of color], and especially those that are disabled, undocumented, sex workers, working class, and/or survivors. To be 'inclusive' implies that a space wasn't made with marginalized people in mind, but are instead an afterthought. Centering QTPOC would entail that we ensure our Pride celebrations are specifically created with the purpose of uplifting these marginalized communities." He notes that an "accessible" pride should work "with local communities and organizers to promote available resources and efforts working towards a better world for disenfranchised people." 3 Amy Quichiz
"Pride can be more inclusive by not just celebrating Pride for a month; this goes out to brands that want to sell 'equality' shirts for June, but continue being discriminatory in July and so forth," says
Amy Quichiz, a writer, activist, and co-founder of Veggie Mijas.
"Pride can always be more inclusive by showing the true faces of those that paved the way [...] and all of those that continue to resist the system each and every single day. Pride is more than just a statement, it is a lifestyle. I'm proud to be queer, bold, and rebellious."
4 LaSaia Wade
"[Pride] was always political and always said 'f*ck the system.' We created pride to be proud to be different, but now we have cops and corporations taking over, and controlling the narrative that we started," says LaSaia Wade, the Founder and Executive Director of
Brave Space Alliance, a Chicago-based organization that provides comprehensive resources for the LGBTQ community. 5 Sofia Scott
"In my case, I don't see very much transgender activism — especially in Utah, where I live," says
Sofia Scott, an activist, songwriter, and in the band Shecock and The Rock Princess. "There are few trans advocate organizations with that as their primary focus, and even then, I feel they come up short. I have put on two transgender awareness events within the last eight months, with little to no support from these activist groups."
"I often find that I am the only one educating the majority about what it means to be transgender by putting on these events. It would be great if we could get more support from even those who claim to be advocates [for the LGBTQ community]."
6 Moroni Benally
"The Pride framework does not, nor ever will represent the liberation aspirations needed for
Queer Indigenous people. Inclusion is a form of muting and erasing voices of colors, dreams, and liberation goals," explains Moroni Benally, the Executive Board and Co-founder of the Utah League of Native American Voters. 7 Beverly Tillery
Beverly Tillery, Executive Director of the
NYC Anti-Violence Project, explains “While celebrating Pride, it’s important to honor Pride’s history by keeping it inclusive, and centering those in our community who exist on the margins. Pride should be a safe space for everyone to be able to celebrate who they are. In order for that to happen, Pride organizers and attendees must be intentional about creating accessible, and safe spaces for everyone." She adds that, "It takes the entire community working together to make Pride an inclusive and celebratory event.” 8
There's nothing wrong with celebrating Pride month, or feeling empowered to live boldly in your queerness, but be sure to always remember Pride's history, and the women who started it. Centering the voices, experiences, and concerns of those from the most marginalized communities during Pride month — and beyond — is not an option, but essential to creating a future where all LGBTQ folks are liberated.
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