For the queer community, this year’s annual Pride celebrations throughout this month will look a little different than they have for the past few years. This spring, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pride celebrations across the country have been moved to a virtual space or delayed until next year when it’ll hopefully be safe to gather for large events again. Gone are the plans to don rainbow attire and celebrate queerness at a corporate-sponsored event, featuring performances by stars of Ru Paul’s Drag Race and Betty Who.
But more recently, in the wake of one of the largest protest movements this generation of emerging queer activists and leaders has ever seen, the queer community has the opportunity to NOT cancel Pride, and instead refocus this month. Pride is deeply rooted in acts of rebellion and protest against the system of policing that has oppressed Black bodies, especially Black trans and gender non-conforming bodies, for decades. This year, 51 years after the Stonewall riots inspired the Pride marches and protests that would continue for five decades, this community has the opportunity to support Black lives and show up in the tradition of Pride itself.
Donate to Support Black Trans Lives
If you’d normally go to a Pride festival in your city, it’s likely that you would’ve spent a little bit of money. Let’s say a ticket is about $20, drinks and food might be another $30. That leaves an extra $50 in your pocket this month. With that extra cash, if you’re able, consider donating to an organization that supports Black trans lives, like The Okra Project, which provides mental health resources for Black trans folx.
Seek Justice for Tony McDade
Two days after the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, sparking protests nationawide, Tony McDade was killed by an officer in Tallahassee, Fla. Tony, a Black trans man, was very loved and active in his community. We can collectively seek justice for Tony by joining the Tallahassee Dream Defenders in calling for the body camera footage of Tony’s death to be released and for charges to be brought against the officer responsible for his death. You can also help provide financial support for Tony’s family during this time.
End the Trans Panic Defense Tactic
In 42 states across the U.S., individuals charged with the murder of a member of the LGBTQIA+ community can claim the ‘gay/trans panic defense,’ a defense described as the LGBT Bar as a “legal strategy which asks a jury to find a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent actions, including murder.” The Human Rights Campaign calls the murder of transgender women, particularly Black transgender women, an epidemic. But with the ‘gay/trans panic defense’ still on the books, it can be difficult and sometimes impossible for families and loved ones of those victims of hate-motivated violence to seek justice. A handful of states have already passed bans on this defense, and other states have introduced legislation to the same effect. As of today, the ‘gay/trans panice defense’ has not been banned in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, or Oklahoma. Take action and contact your elected officials to share your support for these bans.
Celebrate Queer Black Lives and Love
In the middle of this revolutionary time in our communities, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed by negative emotions and activist burnout. In between protests and writing letters to elected officials, we can take some time to invest in our own joy and celebrate Black queer lives and love. Watch a movie or two that tell the stories of Black queer folx. Add a little bit of celebration to your Instagram feed. Read a positive article about Black love when you’ve read one-to-many negative ones. Bump some Black queer musicians while you’re making your protest signs.