In June, queer communities across the United States come together to celebrate national Pride month. Though there are similar festivals and events as well as spaces, that celebrate and affirm queer identities throughout the year, the last week in June is specifically celebrated as a commemoration of the Stonewall Riots in New York, a multi-day demonstration at a well-known queer-friendly space, The Stonewall Inn.
The riots at Stonewall followed years of police raids at the establishment, which was one of the few bars in New York City where trans men and women, gender-nonconforming, and nonbinary people could peacefully express their identities without fear. The rebellion at Stonewall began with Storme DeLarverie, a biracial butch lesbian, resisting arrest and calling to onlookers from the bar to do something while she struggled against the police. It was likely then that Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans woman, threw the brick that empowered the community around her and began a six-day revolution in the city’s streets.
Stonewall is often credited as the first major rebellion in the United States focused on queer liberation. However, for years prior to the week-long protest in 1969, queer revolutionaries across the country, mostly centered on the West Coast, were beginning to fight for reform and justice for queer communities. At Stonewall, a wave of tension and unrest crested, powered by the energy and momentum of organizers, activists, and rebellions from the previous decade.
Protesters across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and in countries around the world, have marched, rallied, and rebelled this week in response to the murder of an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis by a police officer. Like the revolutionaries that led the acts of rebellion for queer liberation, these demonstrations carry the weight of hundreds of marches, events, protests, and outcries over the past decade. As more Americans have awoken to the brutality experienced by people of color, especially Black men and trans people, it is important to know that reproductive justice is definitively tied to racial equality.
Reproductive Justice leaders are clear that: “there can be no Reproductive Justice when Black womxn are criminalized, when Black trans and non-binary people are marginalized, and when Black parents cannot raise their children in peace and free from fear.”
The fight for queer liberation and the fight for Black liberation have always been intrinsically linked. Rooted in class struggle and in conflict with white supremacist culture, these struggles for freedom have shared and grown out of one another. Without Black liberation, there is no true queer liberation. Without queer liberation, there is no true Black liberation.