Pride is traditionally celebrated during June as a way to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of 1969, a week-long series of riots that took place in the Greenwich Village of New York in response to a police raid of Stonewall Inn, a well-known LGBT bar. These riots sparked LGBTQ activism throughout the United States, most notably the Gay Liberation Front, or GFL, that prioritized control over your own body, reproductive rights, and anti-racism.
Two influential trans women of color and drag queens, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, were among the first activists to throw bricks at the police during the Stonewall Riots. Rivera and Johnson would go on to found Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R.), a network that housed queer and trans youth and sex workers. Rivera and Johnson are both recognized as key figures in the LGBTQ liberation movement and should be uplifted in all Pride celebrations for their historic contributions to this work.
It’s important that we all recognize that Pride began with a fight against police violence, led by trans women of color. We do a great disservice to our communities if we celebrate Pride without acknowledging its beginnings and the work still required to achieve liberation. The police violence and injustice that disrupted the LGBT community in 1969 is still present and continues to disrupt the lives of the most marginalized in our communities. All oppression is connected. The liberation of both the LGBTQ community and communities of color requires the efforts of a collective voice willing to stand against oppression and injustice. Thus it is imperative that we uplift Black queer voices, now more than ever.
And if the Stonewall Riots have taught us anything, it is that protests and riots can be effective organizing strategies for long-lasting change. Recently, protests calling for an end to white supremacy, violence, police brutality, and systemic injustice against Black lives have been occurring across the globe. These demonstrations began in Minneapolis, Minnesota following the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade at the hands of the police and the murder of Ahmaud Arbery by two white men while on a jog. The demonstrations have been largely peaceful protests but have been met with more police violence and criticism.
Throughout the upcoming weeks, the PPSAT field team will be hosting several social media weeks of action where we will bring attention to issues or causes deeply linked to reproductive health and rights. This week, I invite you to follow along on our social media accounts as we look at the ways Planned Parenthood serves the LGBTQ community and center the racial justice movements happening across the nation.
In the words of Marsha P. Johnson, “No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.”