This year, it’s been hard to celebrate the victories of the LGBTQ community, given that many of our trans brothers, sisters and non-binary siblings have died by acts of violence. Many cities have opted not to have official Pride celebrations, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this has not impeded activists from launching impromptu Pride and Black Lives Matter protests. In the past, Pride has been celebrated in the form of parades, festivals and block parties, but this year, the LGBTQ community and supporters of Black Lives Matter have united to demand justice for the alleged murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Riah Milton and several others.
It’s often lost on us that the first Pride was a protest. It took place in 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Transgender women of color and drag queens threw bricks at cops following a raid at the bar. It was a huge turning point in the gay rights movement that we still celebrate every day. But over the years, it seems that we’ve forgotten how Pride came to be. Without the Black and Latinx pioneers, who spearheaded the Stonewall riots, we wouldn’t have our Pride parades. We wouldn’t have safe spaces like bars, clubs and resource centers.
Still, all things considered, Pride hasn’t always felt intersectional. In 2017, when a new Pride flag was revealed to represent trans people and people of color, many people, specifically white gay men, vocalized their disdain toward the flag, saying that the original rainbow flag was already representative of trans people and people of color. Even this year, when the alleged murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor garnered enough media attention to inspire protests and riots, many members of the LGBTQ community, again, specifically white gays, vocally opposed said riots.
Over the course of the past month, it feels like Pride is beginning to return to its roots. With the hard work of activists and the dedication of protestors, we are ardently honoring trans women and people of color. While Breonna Taylor and George Floyd weren’t trans, it is vital that members of the LGBTQ community stand with members of the black community, as LGBTQ were and still are victims of police brutality. It is also important that those who support the Black Lives Matter movement also include LGBTQ Black people, as Black transgender women are being murdered at very high rates.
Pride celebrations have often been criticized for catering to white cisgender homosexual men who are physically fit and conventionally attractive. Celebrations have also been criticized for being hypersexualized. While the subject of the sexualization of Pride makes for a debate on its own, the fact that LGBTQ and Black Lives Matter protests are integrating is a sign that we, as a community, are finally acknowledging the hard work of the black people and other people of color who made it possible for us to celebrate Pride.
There’s no telling when we will return to normal life and we have no idea what the post-pandemic normal will look like. But we must not let the Pride and Black Lives Matter protests be a one-off thing. We must continue to remain intersectional and fight for justice for all marginalized communities.