Today is June 1st: the first day of Pride Month. As I peeled my eyes open this Monday morning, rolled over and intuitively picked up my phone to scan Instagram, I came across this photograph, taken yesterday by my best friend since I was sixteen, artist Owen Gould.
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Something about that wildly-resistant-yet-firmly-rooted-in-its-intention energy of what Owen captured on May 31st, 2020 at a protest at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for Black Lives Matter and the murder of George Floyd reminded me of something.
It hit me quickly. The image reminded me of the tireless fight for humanity that is viscerally evident in this photograph of the Stonewall riots — also captured in New York — but in 1969.
America has been brought to her knees as we collectively process, grieve, reflect, and confront the gut-wrenching, deadly epidemic of racism Black Americans face every single day — not only from law enforcement and the government, but from the outward, inward, and systemic racism that lives deep inside the fragile bones of white America.
As I reflected on this, my brain circled back to the Stonewall riots of 1969, the powerful uprising that sparked the entire gay rights movement. I kept thinking about how the radiant energy of a small community absolutely refusing to accept hate changed the world. Not only that, but the Stonewall riots were led by trans women of color who were not only up against rampant homophobia but the daily onslaught of racism and transphobia too.
I came to realize that the beating heart, the pulse in the wrist, the blood in the veins of Pride resides in the steel arms of resistance. Pride month isn’t about parties and glitter (don’t get me wrong, I LOVE parties and glitter), it’s so much deeper than that. It cuts deeper than the slew of hot dyke DJs and the incessant celebrity appearances and the beautiful boys twirling down Christopher Street.
Pride month is about refusing to keep your mouth shut when there is a chorus of prejudice spewing their song of hate all around you. It’s about singing an entirely different song than the masses. It’s about having the courage and the guts and the moxie to raise your voice and belt out a bold song of justice even when you are the only one singing the song and are deeply afraid. It’s about understanding that real change requires you to get uncomfortable, physically, and emotionally.
It’s about doing the right thing.
Because, if you strip away the sparkles and the rainbows, the LGBTQ+ rights movement is about fighting, with everything you have in your body, for humanity. And right now, Black humans need us to step up and speak out — to stand alongside them, to fight with them, to donate whatever the hell we can donate, to call out racism every single time we see it, and — most pressingly — to listen to Black voices.
So I invite you, my fellow white queers, to honor Pride month 2020 alongside me by supporting #BlackLivesMatter. Let’s accept that we have blind spots when it comes to race. Let’s look within and reflect on how we have failed People of Color and our queer Black community. Let’s honor those who put their lives on the line at Stonewall by putting ourselves on the line for Black lives. If you dig deep inside of yourself you might find that you are stronger and more profound of an activist than you ever imagined. LGBTQ+ people have some robust DNA. It’s time to tap into our power and serve Black queers and the entire Black community.
I understand that I don’t understand what it’s like to be Black in America — but I stand.
Click here to donate to Black Lives Matter.