Amongst the backlash following the killing of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and countless others by police, queer people need to stand up for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Social media exploded with rage over the video of Floyd being killed by uniformed police officers. The protests and following riots created a lot of controversy with many people saying that rioting and looting is horrible and will not get anything done.
After numerous videos of white gay men taunting and attacking protestors and police yelling inflammatory homophobic language went viral during protests, the call for queer people to support Black Lives Matter was immediate.
Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans woman, was one of the prominent figures and key organizers of the Stonewall Riots of 1969. These riots followed the police raiding of Stonewall Inn in New York where patrons and workers were arrested. This was the start of the modern day Gay Rights Movement.
According to History, during this time “New York State Liquor Authority penalized and shut down establishments that served alcohol to known or suspected LGBT individuals, arguing that the mere gathering of homosexuals was ‘disorderly.’”
What followed was six days of protests and violent clashes with police.
The Christopher Street Liberation Day March was an annual celebration honoring the Stonewall Riots. According to the Smithsonian magazine, one year after the riots, this march was held as a free for all. There were no age limits, no dress code, queer public displays of affection were allowed and trans people could participate—all of which the previous queer marches, the Reminder marches, were very strict on. It resulted in extreme success and was the beginning of what modern pride parades look like. Johnson, as an organizer of Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries was also one of the main forces for trans people being involved in this march.
For queer people to ignore this history and try and judge how Black people react to decades of police violence and systematic racism is absurd. Not to mention the fact that failing to support the Black Lives Matter movement ignores and invalidates the fact that there are Black queer people who may not be supported in Black or queer spaces. Given our history, queer people should be supporting others who are being oppressed, if they are a part of our community or not.
Black people are being unjustly murdered, much like the queer communities’ trans brothers and sisters—many of who are also Black.
According to The Human Rights Campaign, which documents deaths of transgender and gender non conforming individuals killed each year, in 2019 alone 20 of the 26 reported cases were Black individuals. These numbers can be exponentially higher as they state that “too often these stories go unreported or misreported.”
Two of the three Black women who started Black Lives Matter are also queer. Ignoring this by not standing with them right now when Black Lives Matter stands up for Black queer individuals is anti-Black. Their website’s mission statement even says “We affirm the lives of Black queer and trans folks.”
Black people have consistently shown up for civil rights movements, even when pushed out by white people (such as during the Women’s Rights Movement, in years past and present). Now, the time has come for those who fought, protested and rioted for their rights as well to come fight for Black people’s right to not be senselessly killed by police. White and white passing queer people need to be held accountable for their privileges.
Take action here.
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