June 28, 1969
Police arrested 13 people while raiding the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City.
These arrests provoked six days of protests throughout the city as outraged activists, tired of the prejudiced pattern of shutting down gay bars, took to the streets. Among the first protesters were Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, trans women of color who became prominent activists in the fight for LGBTQ equality.
The legal justification for the police raid at Stonewall was that the bar had no license to sell liquor. However, as the State Liquor Authority refused to grant licenses to gay bars, this was in actuality a thinly-veiled excuse to target gay clubs, further smother the community, and silence the voices of those demanding justice and equality for queer people.
June 17, 2017
Police arrested four protesters at the Stonewall Columbus Pride March in Columbus, Ohio.
These four were part of a larger group of protesters who blocked the march route to hold a seven minute moment of silence to commemorate Philando Castile the day after the officer who unjustly killed him was acquitted on all charges—one minute for each bullet fired. The protesters wrote in an a statement that this moment of silence was “an effort to raise awareness about the violence against and erasure of black and brown queer and trans people, in particular the lack of space for black and brown people at pride festivals.”
The legal justification for the four arrests was that the protesters had no permit to block the street. However, this was in actuality an excuse to ignore the intersectional nature of social activism, police black and brown bodies, and silence the voices of those demanding justice and equality for black and brown people, specifically in the LGBTQ community.
As I compare the above events, two truths stand out to me.
1. As history denotes, pride is rooted in protest.
2. While black and brown queer and trans people have helped lead the fight for LGBTQ equality, they’ve been consistently marginalized and ignored within their own community.
Stonewall started out as a protest against police brutality, and people of color were fighting on the front lines from the beginning. These protests were the catalyst for our pride marches today. It’s incredibly hypocritical to delegitimize a protest against injustice while at a march that began as a protest against injustice, which is exactly what happened at the Stonewall Columbus Pride March. The inclusion of “Stonewall” in the name as an homage to the original protests in New York only adds to the upsetting irony.
Because the LGBTQ community is made up of people marginalized for their identity, it can be hard to believe that we would further marginalize members of our own community. But this has been happening for decades, and it continues today.
Beyond Gay Rights
The HUDS Strike Is So GayGayer than brunch, probably.
Take Pride or Fake Pride?Some argue that the commercialization of Pride trivializes the goals of the movement, turning Pride into a marketing strategy rather than a movement for equality.
Making HistoryOur community has come a long way in our fight for equality, but we still have a long way to go.
Put a Ring on It?Marriage isn’t the end-all-be-all of the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. It never was, it never will be, and any suggestion that it is is naive at best and detrimental to the movement at worst.