HAMPTON ROADS, Va. — This Pride Month is very different from those of years' past, especially for the Black LGBTQ community.
While many people are commemorating the Stonewall riots that lead to the gay rights movement for equality, many are hoping this latest uprising will also lead to lasting change.
The Stonewall riots in June 1969 began as a stand against police enforcement of homophobic laws oppressing the LGBTQ community.
Clashes between police and protesters outside a New York gay bar 51 years ago fueled the modern-day gay rights movement; 51 years later, clashes between police and protesters are fueling the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We would not have a Pride Month if it were not for Black and Latinx trans and gender non-conforming people like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who led the Stonewall uprising, and you know, we are where we are today because of their efforts,” said Vee Lamneck, who is the Executive Director of Equality Virginia.
Pride Month is celebrated in June to commemorate the Stonewall uprising. Many parades and celebrations have been canceled because of COVID-19, but the LGBTQ community is still marching for Black lives, especially Black trans lives.
“These uprisings for Black Lives Matter that we were seeing across the country, and here in our own home state as well, have re-emphasized that racial justice is integral to pride, Pride Month and to the LGBTQ movement as a whole,” said Lamneck.
Activist says LGBTQ equality for the white community has come a long way, but note that Black trans women experience the highest and most disproportionate rates of violence seen in the LGBT community.
“We have laid to rest far too many of our trans sisters, specifically, who are Black, who have been victims of racism and transphobia and sexism in this country and that is just one example of how far we need to come to ensure that all LGBT people, especially Black LGBT people, experience full lived equality, and that means dismantling white supremacy,” said Lamneck.
Michelle Reed with the LGBT Life Center in Norfolk says, “The intersectionality of being Black, being queer, it creates a complex conversion of oppression that someone may face.”
For the Black LGBTQ community, this Pride month is the culmination of long fought battles against the systems that prevent them from living their fullest lives.
“It’s the perfect storm for change. It’s the perfect storm for Black lives to matter; it’s the perfect storm for Black trans lives to matter,” says Reed.
And the perfect time to reflect on the past to help define the future.