cw: violence, abuse, sexual assault
today is the last day of June and the last official day of pride month. i never really knew that much about the history of pride month until this year actually.
in the 60s, the lgbtq+ community was not accepted in mainstream society so gay bars became safe spaces for people to express themselves. Stonewall, a gay bar located in Greenwich Village, was one of the only gay bars left that allowed for dancing. they held drag events and dance nights where queer people could express themselves freely. but on June 28, 1969, police raided Stonewall Inn. they brutally attacked and arrested 13 people in total and assaulted the bar's customers. after the violent attack, the gay community responded by protesting and rioting for three days. these actions following Stonewall ultimately became the catalyst for gay rights movements and the development of lgbtq+ organizations.
civil rights activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were on the frontlines of the riots and made significant contributions for the queer community. in August 1970, Johnson staged a sit-in at Weinstein Hall at NYU after administrators cancelled a dance sponsored by gay organizations. Johnson and Rivera then co-founded STAR (Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries) which "offered services and advocacy for homeless queer youth, and fought for the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in NY." STAR fought for the NYC Transgender Rights Bill and demanded justice for Amanda Milan, a 25 year old trans woman who was murdered in 2000. these are just a few of the many people and causes STAR fought for. on Rivera's deathbed she even met with leaders of "the ESPA to negotiate transgender inclusion in it's political structure and agenda."
in July 1992, Marsha P Johnson's body was found floating in the Hudson River. the police issued her death a suicide although she suffered an obvious head wound. anyone who knew Johnson at the time did not believe she would do this to herself. Johnson's death, like the deaths of many other black trans women, was overlooked and ultimately dismissed with little inquiry.
it's important not to overlook intersectional aspects of queerness, especially when discussing the history of lgbtq+ liberation. many lgbtq+ issues intersect heavily with poverty, race, and class, especially for activists like Johnson and Rivera. i think that this can be missed when it comes to learning about the history of queer liberation with many dominate experiences coming from white middle-class cis gay men or even popular modern representations of queerness like Queer Eye etc.
i feel incredibly grateful. grateful that people stood up for what was right. fought against the police. and sacrificed themselves undoubtedly to a cause that many of us take for granted. while queer people do have laws now to protect themselves, the fight is far from over. right now... as we fucking speak... we have a president who actually erased transgender healthcare protections. you can learn more about it here. the truth of the matter is we are FAR from liberation. just because we don't all have to be in the closet anymore doesn't mean that we have free, equal access to our rights. the murders of black trans people across the country is a nationwide crisis.
in Philadelphia (the city i call home), Dominique Rem'mie Fells was brutally murdered earlier this month. her body was found dismembered in the Schuylkill River. violence against trans women, especially trans women of color, continues to occur throughout the country at alarming rates.
Riah Milton, a black transgender woman, was shot and killed during a robbery in Liberty Township, Ohio. Nina Pop, a black transgender women, was stabbed to death in Sikeston, Missouri in May.
19 year old black lives matter activist Oluwatoyin Salau was found dead in Tallahassee, Florida also this month. she was on the frontlines protesting for Tony McDade, a 38 year old black transgender man who was shot by an officer of the Tallahassee Police Department.
i don't like when people say "thank god things aren't how they were back then!"
newsflash. it's still really fucking bad! just because these issues may not effect you directly does not mean they aren't happening.
we must continue to do the work this month and every month moving forward to make lgbtq+ movement inclusive of everyone. we must not forget the intersections of poverty, race, and class that exist within the lgbtq+ community. if you would like to read more i recommend this PDF from the Human Rights Campaign called "Addressing Anti-Transgender Violence: Exploring Realities, Challenges, and Solutions for Policy Makers and Community Advocates." you can sign the #DefundThePolice petition here. you can sign this petition against Trump's policies to dismantle trans rights. this article by Harper's BAZAAR also has great resources on how to donate / support black trans lives.
i'm so proud to be a queer person. i'm thankful that i have a very accepting community of other queer people around me. but the reality is that we're still having these conversations. the police are still committing and dismissing the murders of trans bipoc. this isn't over. this is just beginning