This year, Pride month looks a bit different, in ways that are arguably more potent than in recent years. Pride parades have been cancelled in response to the coronavirus outbreak, but it feels like they’ve been traded in for nationwide protests that are helping to fuel the unprecedented momentum of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
#BlackLivesMatter is a movement that was formally organized in 2013, specifically in response to the acquittal of a man who fatally shot a 17-year-old Black child, Trayvon Martin, for “looking suspicious” in a mostly-white neighborhood. The movement has since grown into an internationally recognized platform to mobilize against white supremacy, create space to celebrate Black joy, and to challenge the continuing injustices that have been perpetuated by the effects of systemic and institutionalized racism.
Lately, #BlackLivesMatter has gained a never before seen level of traction, channeling the justified, global outrage around the constant killings of Black people at the hands of white folks. Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, and Philando Castile are only a small handful of Black people who have been killed due to the excessive force of police or white vigilantes. In recent weeks, the world has woken up to news of Black people like Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery having been wrongfully killed in the same vein, the latter two of which were caught on camera.
It is more than apparent that our Black community is hurting, literally dying at the hands of those who are meant to protect them. It should not take the blatant, recorded killing of a Black person to recognize that it is past time to mobilize with the support of everyone in this world to help eradicate white supremacy that has found itself affecting every part of our lives, and putting our Black community in perpetual danger.
Whether it’s directed towards sexual or racial liberation, Pride month is a great time to reflect and build from its historical roots to support the fight for Black equality. This Pride month, we encourage everyone to channel the Black foundations and overall energy of resistance seen in the history of Pride into also amplifying that of #BlackLivesMatter.
Pride as we know it is the result of one particular uprising that occurred in 1969 in New York City, at the Stonewall Inn. Stonewall was a gay bar which also doubled as a means of refuge for queer people who were often thrown out of their homes or simply had nowhere else to go where they wouldn’t be outwardly harassed or discriminated against for their sexuality. With just a small fee to enter and no requirement to buy drinks, it became a haven for many queer people in the city.
In a time when gay bars were being systematically discriminated against by being denied liquor licenses just for being gay bars, the police would regularly raid these establishments and shut them down, using the lack of permits as their reasoning and queer discrimination as their MO.
As you can imagine, tensions between the police and queer community began to build, and on June 28, 1969, the police raided the Stonewall Inn, this time sparking an uprising that would serve as the explosive catalyst in championing queer rights, with a momentum that had never before been realized. From June 28 to July 3, police were fighting with the patrons of Stonewall, the larger queer community, and allies who had decided that enough was enough.
The rich history of Pride, rooted in this specific uprising, is unquestionably due in large part to the contributions of queer people of color (QPOCs). This includes the lesser known, bi-racial, butch lesbian icon, Storme DeLarverie, who threw the first punch during the Stonewall uprising, as well as Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, trans women of color who helped focus the rage of being mistreated by cops into formative change through the Gay Liberation movement.
Even outside of both movements having Black beginnings, the parallels between the current #BlackLivesMatter movement and Pride are apparent in the frustrations both communities experienced and continue to experience. Both communities have risen through outrage and have mobilized in direct response to challenging institutions that do not serve them.
Both movements are a result of pushing back on the law when the law itself is not on their side. Another important characteristic between both movements is the intersectionality apparent in both communities. Queer people also include Black folks, and the Black community also includes those who are queer.
That being said, both movements are not mutually exclusive. Even though it is Pride month, we should both celebrate the contributions of queer folks who have been trailblazing the path towards equality while also using this month as an amplifier for focused efforts in bringing racial inequality to light, and support our queer people of color who have been demanding for racial equality through the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Supporting #BlackLivesMatter during Pride is also a means to address the disparities within the queer community itself, as much of queer marginalization particularly affects QPOCs. QPOCs stand at a higher risk of being murdered, they remain at a higher risk for disease, poverty, and homelessness. The marginalization that Black people face is compounded even more by the discrimination faced by being queer.
You are not taking away from one movement by also supporting another. Advocating for equality is why Pride has evolved to the force that it is today. In fact, by recognizing the historical successes of Pride as a result of resistance, you can build on the parallels of that movement and the current uprising in the #BlackLivesMatter movement to accelerate change.
We’ve outlined a number of resources on how to support #BlackLivesMatter this Pride month. This list isn’t comprehensive, but it’s a start. We encourage you to continue to take time to learn more about the injustices facing our Black community. Equality is a right for everyone, and if we are able to harness the strength of movements past to fuel our current fights for equality, let’s do it.
In their own words, this is “a list of books, films and podcasts about systemic racism. You’ll find research on how racism permeates everything from the criminal justice system to health care.”
“A Detailed List of Anti-Racism Resources” (Katie Couric)
The title says it all! This is an extensive list of things to read, watch, listen to, and people to follow as you educate yourself.
Resources for educators who want to integrate information and education about Black Lives Matter into their curiculum.
“Black Lives Matter Toolkits” (BLM)
This is the “resources” section of the organization itself. It includes multiple “toolkits” to help people work through issues of racial inequity, including at least one in Spanish.
A list of resources, donation links, reading recommendations, and Black designers to support, compiled by the world’s leading design organization.