Updated: Jun 2, 2020
I don’t know about you all but the first thing I think of when I think of Pride month is the multi-colored flag and the beautiful people that rep it. Human rights being extended to everyone, no matter their race, gender identity or sexuality has been a normal train of thought for me. Unfortunately, not everyone has the logic to understand that love is love. You see, June is about more than the celebrations, the parades, the smiles and fun. It’s about liberation against police brutality, unity, equal rights and solidarity.
That’s where Stonewall comes in. In the early hours of June 28th, 1969, the NYPD raided a gay club called Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. The police, per usual, handled the club goers and employees with extreme force and aggression, leading to a violent six day protest with law enforcement and the neighborhood residents. This monumental moment in history served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement that we know and support in the United States and around the world.
The LGBT community weren’t accepted in the early 1960s and preceding decades, as there was even a criminal statute that allowed police to arrest people wearing less than three “gender-appropriate” pieces of clothing. This ignorant law is just one of the ways gay clubs became a form of sanctuary, a place of refuge and freedom. Having a safe haven still pissed law enforcement off, as they partnered with the NYC State Liquor Authority and began coming for each establishment that openly served someone who was gay. They argued that the mere gathering of homosexuals was “disorderly.” Granted these laws were overturned in ’66, if someone of the same sex openly loved on their partner (holding hands, kissing, or dancing), they could still be arrested, as this was still deemed illegal.
Being that the entire LGBT community were shunned away in most places, the Mafia saw profit in serving them, and eventually controlled most of Greenwich Village’s gay bars in the ’60s. The Genovese family even bribed NYPD to ignore the activities occurring within the club. Stonewall Inn was able to go under the radar for quite sometime due to dirty cops tipping off the family before any raids occurred. This allowed the bar to hide the alcohol and put an end to any other activities that the state deemed illegal. With this in mind, before the Stonewall Riots occurred, the NYPD raided the same exact club just days before with no problem at all. But, this time, on June 28th, no one tipped the bar or mafia off.
Due to the lack of knowledge of the raid, NYPD burst through the doors of Stonewall Inn with a warrant in hand, finding alcohol and the LGBT community being themselves behind closed doors. Similar to how the 1965 Watts Riots in LA sparked within a matter of minutes, shit got real in Greenwich Village within seconds. Known badass, activist and Black Drag Queen Marsha P. Johnson and Latinx Queen Sylvia Rivera were the first to resist police that night, throwing anything they could to wound them. Soon, instead of fleeing the scene, the neighborhood decided to gather outside of the bar. Being fed up with past aggression and the current handling they were witnessing of the bar-goers and employees, the crowd grew agitated. A cop hit Stormé DeLarverie, a black lesbian, over the head before forcing her into a paddy wagon. She immediately shouted at the growing crowd to act, and you bet your sweet ass that that’s exactly what they did!
A Village Voice writer was on the scene and was even barricaded in the bar at one point during the riot. After five days of hell, the final day of the riots ignited a new wave of anger from residents in Greenwich due to an article the Village Voice wrote. Howard Smith wrote about how he wished he had a gun to defend himself “just like the cops”, while Lucian Truscott IV reported the street scene. His usage of “faggot” and other pejorative language upset rioters so much that they actually stormed the Village Voice office itself! Honestly, that’s just another example of how one can be right in the middle of something revolutionary and still think shit is sweet. While the Stonewall Riots ended on the sixth day, it sparked a campaign that needed to be heard then, and it needs to be heard now.
The Badassery of Marsha & Sylvia on the night of the riots didn’t end in 1969. Once everything settled, the two went on to start STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), and organization that was dedicated to serving young, homeless drag queen and trans women of color. While it's no longer active, it's still needed today, as in the year of 2019, there has been 9 murders of trans women so far, and all of them have been women of color.
It's the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, and while there is a rising acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community in the United States today, the rate of homicide against the community is also on the rise. 28 states have made it to where it’s legal to fire someone based on their sexual orientation. 3 states have laws that block local governments from enacting housing protections for LGBTQ+ people. The list goes on! Their rights and lives are still under attack. So, while Pride month looks to be all sunshine and rainbows to those on the outside, the community and it’s allies want to remind you that it goes beyond that. While we're at it, here's a double reminder. You can't be #BlackLivesMatter and ignore our trans, bi, lesbian, gay, or queer brothers and sisters of color. It's all of us or none of us. I said what I said.
We’ll wrap this piece up with some facts, brands to support & resources. Support them.
LGBTQ+ Non-Profits (not a complete list, just naming a few):
Brands that actually support LGBTQ+ non-profits and don’t just slap a Pride flag on their gear just to sell merchandise (not a complete list, just naming a few):
Things you should know:
- Transgender people of color are 6 times more likely to experience police violence. The intersection of racism and transphobia can make these survivors and victims more vulnerable to violence and more likely to experience discrimination and violence from direct service providers and law enforcement.
- In 2017, there was the equivalent of one homicide of an LGBTQ person in the U.S. each week.
- Transgender women were 1.8 times more likely to experience sexual violence when compared with other survivors. Additionally, transgender women were more likely to experience police violence, discrimination, harassment, threats, and intimidation.
- For the last five years, NCAVP has documented a consistent and steadily rising number of reports of homicides of transgender women of color, which continued into 2017.
- In 2017, NCAVP collected information on 27 hate-violence related homicides of transgender and gender non-conforming people this year, compared to 19 reports for 2016. 22 of these homicides were of transgender women of color.
- Guns were used in 59% of the total number of homicides in the LGBTQ+ community in 2017, including three people who were shot and killed by police.
** The information above was provided by the NCAVP
The chart below is from the most recent report (2017) from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP):
Documentaries, movies & shows you should watch:
- Sense 8 (Netflix)
- Paris is Burning (Netflix)
- Moonlight (Netflix)
- Stonewall Uprising
- State of Pride (Youtube)
- The Death of Marsha P. Johnson (Netflix)
- Kiki (Youtube, Hulu, Amazon Prime)
- Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community (iTunes)
- Love, Simon
- Blue is the Warmest Color
- The Lavender Scare (PBS)
- Pose (FX)
- Wig (HBO)
Say Their Names - As of June 9th, 2019, we've lost 9 trans women of color. As of 9/18, we've now had to update this list to a total of 18 trans women of color and one white trans man. This has to STOP.
- Dana Martin, 31 years of age
- Jazzaline Ware, age unknown
- Ashanti Carmon, 27 years of age
- Claire Legato, 21 years of age
- Muhlaysia Booker, 23 years of age
- Michelle "Tamika" Washington, 40 years of age
- Paris Cameron, 20 years of age
- Chynal Lindsey, 26 years of age
- Chanel Scurlock, 23 years of age
- Zoe Spears, 23 years of age
- Brooklyn Lindsey, 32 years of age
- Denali Berries Stuckey, 29 years of age
- Tracy Single, 22 years of age
- Marquis "Kiki" Fantroy, 21 years of age
- Pebbles La Dime Doe, 24 years of age
- Bailey Reeves, 17 years of age
- Bee Love Slater, 23 years of age
- Ja'Leyah-Jamar, 28 years of age
- Jordan Cofer, while not a person of color, was a trans man that was gunned down in the mass shooting in Dayton Ohio in August at 22 years of age