Pride Month Is an Opportunity for the Entire LGBTQ Community to Support Black Lives

Pride Month Is an Opportunity for the Entire LGBTQ Community to Support Black Lives

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Yesterday, June 1, marked the first day of Pride Month 2020, and it was a more solemn kick-off than we’ve seen in years past. Not only is the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to ravage communities around the globe, after it has already decimated any hope for large in-person Pride events this year, but protests here in the United States and around the globe over the fight for Black lives have appropriately taken the forefront of discussion. Should Pride Month 2020 be canceled outright, or is there a way for the month of June to mobilize the entire LGBTQ community to support Black lives?

Many important voices in the push for LGBTQ equality here in the United States — including the leaders of more than 100 prominent LGBTQ and civil rights organizations — are pushing for that second option.

On Friday, May 29, days ahead of Pride Month 2020, 109 of those organization leaders signed onto a joint letter committing to the #BlackLivesMatter movement and vowing to actively support the fight against racism and white supremacy. Read the letter in its entirety here.

In a post on HRC’s social media on June 1, HRC President Alphonso David, a former civil rights attorney himself, connected the dots between Pride and the continuing protests over George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department; he argues that Pride this year requires explicit commitments to fighting racism and white supremacy, and reminds us that the goal of Pride continues to be full equality of all LGBTQ people:

Pride in our community means pride in our resilience — and our resistance.

Pride started with protest. LGBTQ people — led in large part by transgender women of color — resisted police brutality and violence at flashpoints like Stonewall, the Black Cat, and Compton’s Cafeteria. We as a community refused to accept humiliation and fear as the price of living as our true selves. Our community understands what it means to rise up and push back against a culture that tells us we are less than, that our lives don’t matter.

All these years later, Black people and the most marginalized across this nation are still facing brutality, are still facing injustice, are still facing indifference. Yes, we have won major victories in expanding civil rights for historically marginalized groups. But what good are civil rights without the freedom to enjoy them?

This moment requires that we make explicit commitments and take action to embrace anti-racism and end white supremacy, not as necessary corollaries to our mission, but as integral to the objective of full equality for LGBTQ people.

We know from the best legacies of our leaders then and now — the LGBTQ luminaries and the footsoldiers for justice — none of us will be free until all of us are free.

So as we celebrate Pride Month, let us carry the work forward with greater intentionality to affect change for all of us, not some of us. Because while we may not be able to celebrate Pride in person this year, there is nothing to stop us from taking action.

I want you to be proud.

I want you to be proud at work, at school, and in your communities.

I want you to be proud at the ballot box.

I want you to be proud — and loud — in demanding full equality, racial justice, gender justice, and the true liberation of all people.

I want you to be proud of all the change that you have helped achieve and all the beauty and possibility that our community holds.

Because of you, I believe a better world is possible, and I know we will get there, together. Happy Pride.

You can also watch video of HRC President Alphonso David’s Pride Month 2020 statement:

Another joint statement was released on June 1, this one co-signed by Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez, LGBTQ Caucus Chair Earl Fowlkes, Treasurer Bill Derrough and Secretary Jason Rae.

They, too, acknowledge that while Pride Month 2020 has begun at a dark time — citing three epidemics: COVID-19, the murders of several Black Americans and record unemployment for Hispanic Americans — we cannot risk losing important ground in the fight for what’s right. Most of the DNC statement speaks to the importance of replacing Donald Trump with Joe Biden, but more broadly it touches on the importance of keeping the fight alive:

This year’s LGBTQ Pride Month comes at a dark time for our country, and for many members of the LGBTQ community. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and far too many Black Americans. The more than 100,000 Americans — disproportionately Blacks and Latinos — who have lost their lives in the fight against coronavirus. And the more than 40 million Americans whose livelihoods have been ripped away, with record unemployment in the Hispanic community. We are reminded each and every day of the pain faced by people of color in this country.

This month we will remember all those we have lost to these epidemics. We will mourn and celebrate the lives of those who have left us. We will listen, speak out, protest, and share their stories. Pride is a time not just for celebration, but for reflection and appreciation of those who fought for the rights we enjoy today, and for the work that remains unfinished. 51 years after Stonewall, we will continue the legacy of Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Stormé DeLarverie, and countless other activists and leaders.

The rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters are under attack — both as members of our community and as people of color, immigrants, poor and working class Americans, and women. The Trump administration has rolled back or moved to roll back protections for LGBTQ students, families, patients, service members, inmates, people experiencing homelessness, and workers. Trump has attacked LGBTQ health care, civil rights, and equal protections under law.

We need political, moral, and empathetic leadership to begin to heal our wounds and move our country forward. LGBTQ discrimination and racism will not end in one presidency, but the difference between progress and losing even more ground has never been more stark. We need Joe Biden as president to champion LGBTQ rights at home and abroad. We saw what he was capable of as vice president: becoming the highest-ranking U.S. official to call for marriage equality, supporting the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ passing the Affordable Care Act with protections against discrimination, championing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and fighting for LGBTQ protections in the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization. As president, Joe Biden will move our nation closer to the full equality so many have fought and died for.

This June, we must make Pride Month 2020 focused on the fight for Black lives.

Photo of San Francisco’s 47th annual Pride Parade (2017) by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

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