like to say there was something in the air why Pride 2017- here and
abroad- was one of the most contentious event in its history. Many,
however, in our LGBTQ communities say the tension was always present.
parades will be taking place across the country this month. And, as
we all rev up for this year’s festivities, so, too, will the
fault lines of race, gender identity and class emerge. In addition to
the main Pride events taking place in many major cities and towns,
there will be segments of our communities- from women to trans
people to people of color- holding their own.
is about the varied expressions of the life, gifts, and talents of
the entire community. But the divisions in our communities during
Pride also show us something troubling and broken within ourselves.
And, last year a black queer resistance rose up -across the country
and beyond- denouncing the glib notion that “gay is the new
example, last year Philadelphia memorably had a controversy over its
new Pride flag. Black and brown stripes were added to the rainbow
flag as part of the city’s campaign “More Color More
Pride, ” as a way of visibly include people of color. in the
a push for people to start listening to people of color in our
community, start hearing what they’re saying, and really to
believe them and to step up and say, ‘What can I do to help
eradicate these issues in our community?” said Amber Hikes, the
new executive director of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs
told “NBC OUT."
nation’s Capitol is always a big draw for LGBTQIA communities
across the country come Pride, but D.C.'s white communities aren't
always inviting and welcoming, and last year many people of African
descent spoke out about it.
don’t socialize together. There are very few places where black
and white socialize together, which is the basis of relationships and
friendships, the basis of understanding,” Earl Fowlkes told the
Washington Blade. Fowlkes is executive director of the Center for
Black Equity, a national D.C.-based group that advocates for
African-American LGBT people and helps organize Black Pride events in
the U.S. and abroad.
“And until we
start doing that and creating those spaces to do that we’re
going to have misunderstandings and a lack of sensitivity toward
issues of race.”
Black Pride 2017 took place in February, offering hip-hop yoga,
commemorating Black History Month and National Black HIV/AIDS
Awareness, and a Mix and Mingle Drag Paint Party, to name a few.
Sadly, the growing distance between our larger white LGBTQ community
and LGBTQ communities of color is shown by how, for example, a health
issue like HIV/AIDS, which was once an entire LGBTQ community
problem, is now predominately impacting communities of color. LGBTQ
people of African descent have focused not only on HIV/AIDS and
same-sex marriage but also unemployment, housing, gang violence, and
LGBTQ youth homelessness, to name a few.
there was Montreal — my go-to place when I want to flee both my
home in Massachusetts and the entire United States — which had
their troubles last year at Pride, too.
of Black Queer Lives Matter (BQLM) disrupted the minute of silence
during the parade because of Pride’s whitewashing and
complicity in the erasure of its Black and racialized origins during
the Stonewall uprising of 1969.
is part of BQLM’s statement at Montreal Pride:
Montréal will have to answer for its decisions, its actions or
its lack of actions before the LGBTQ Montreal racialized communities.
Recognize that we have created Pride and give it back to us!
the names of these trans and queer women resonate in your heads and
be visible in all editions of Pride! They are trans and from POC
communities and are at the origin of the Pride movement!”
growing distance between our larger and white LGBTQ community and
LGBTQ communities of color has a historical antecedent as BQLM
showed. Many LGBTQ people of African descent and Latinos argue that
the gulf between whites and themselves is also about how the dominant
queer community rewrote and continued to control the history of
Stonewall. The Stonewall Riot of June 27-29, 1969 in Greenwich
Village, New York City, started on the backs of working-class
African-American and Latinx queers who patronized that bar. Those
brown and black LGBTQ people are not only absent from the photos of
that night, but they are also bleached from its written history.
Because of the bleaching of the Stonewall Riots, the beginnings of
the LGBTQ movement post-Stonewall is an appropriation of a black,
brown, trans, and queer liberation narrative. And it is the
deliberate visible absence of these African American, Latino, and API
LGBTQ people that makes it harder, if not near impossible for LGBTQ
communities to build trusted coalitions with white LGBTQ communities.
advances such as hate crime laws, legalization of same-sex marriage
across the country, and with homophobia viewed as a national concern,
the LGBTQ movement has come a long way since the first Pride March in
1969. Many laud the distance the LGBTQ community has traveled in such
a short time from a disenfranchised group on the fringe of America’s
mainstream to a community now embraced. But not all members of our
community have crossed the finish line. Some are waving the
cautionary finger that within our community not all are equal. And
Pride events can be public displays of those disparities.
acceptance is just one of a few things LGBTQ people of color do not
experience from larger Pride events. Many Pride celebrations are
predominately white, and many LGBTQ of color revelers experience
social exclusion and invisibility within these spaces. After decades
of Pride events where many LGBTQ people of color tried to be included
and weren’t, black, Asian and Latino Pride events were born.
we feud with one another this is what is at stake- erosion of our
example, the U. S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the case
“Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.”
The case, which has many of us on pins
and needles, will be decided this Pride season, and a baker’s
right to refuse to make a wedding cake for same-sex couples on the
grounds of religious freedom could be enshrined by the high court.
Donald Trump has taken office, there has been an erosion of LGBTQ
civil rights under the guise of religious liberty. There are bills
are called Religious Freedom Restoration Acts that are a backlash to
the Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage. Lawmakers want to use
them to codify LGBTQ discrimination to justify denying us services on
state and local levels, and Trump is in lockstep with these
the denial of transgender Americans access to public lavatories is
eerily reminiscent of the country’s Jim Crow era, denying
African-Americans access to lunch counters, water fountains, and,
libraries, gas stations, theaters, and restrooms.
there are the laws passed in Kansas and Oklahoma that allow adoption
agencies to refuse to place children in the homes of families they
find morally reprehensible (a.k.a. us).
do we go from here?
we go from here now, in my opinion, is in recognizing the need to
network and build coalitions beyond one’s immediate
communities; thus, creating an intersectional social justice activism
throughout our cities and towns to foster healthy and wholesome
pride events are still fraught with divisions, at their core, pride
events are an invitation for communities to connect their political
activism with their celebratory acts of song and dance in its
continued fight for justice. They should highlight the multicultural
aspect of joy and celebration that symbolizes not only our uniqueness
as individuals and communities but also affirms our varied
expressions of LGBTQIA life in America.