THE NEUTRAL ZONE
“The first pride was a riot.” A rallying cry for the LGBTQ community since the police raid on the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, the phrase holds a stark meaning in 2020’s Pride month amidst a pandemic and protests. The celebrations will be different this year, but while “corporatization and sanitization” of Pride’s message has toned down the political angle in recent years, Pride month has always been a protest for the community.
On Monday, multiple human rights groups (including LGBTQ groups GLAAD, National Center for Transgender Equality, and Los Angeles LGBT Center) penned a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo questioning why the U.S. refused to sign 2 separate declarations marking the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia, and Transphobia. The letter called the rejection of international human rights standards “a calculated effort by the Trump Administration to delegitimize the rights of LGBTI people, with explicit exclusion of transgender people.”
Among the recent deaths fueling protests across the United States was Tony McDade, a transgender man from Tallahassee, Florida. McDade was accused of stabbing another man, then pointing a gun at the responding officer before being shot by that officer. Activists are now calling for a focus on the stories of black transgender people like McDade during Pride Month to call attention to violence against them. According to a 2015 survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality, 58% of respondents said they had experienced some form of mistreatment from police, including misgendering, verbal harassment, and physical or sexual assault.
For some in the LGBTQ community, quarantine provided a safe space to come out to their family. “I guess a tiny part of me felt like I wouldn’t be ‘in trouble’ since I’m quarantined in a city across the country from them,” Anastasia Pelot told Hello Giggles of her quarantined “coming out” phone calls with her parents. An anonymous source told the website she had come out as bisexual to her husband in April, noting the quarantine allowed them to take a deep look at their relationship. For many LGBTQ groups, however, coronavirus-related restrictions pose a new challenge for fundraising and voter outreach for the over 850 openly LGBTQ candidates running for office in 2020. Elliot Imse, senior director of communications at the LGBTQ Victory Fund, told The Hill, “These digital Pride events are unlikely to bring in the same numbers [and] it will hurt the visibility of these candidates.”
While over 500 Pride events nationwide were canceled due to coronavirus, communities have turned to digital events. In response to Black Lives Matters protests, Boston Pride postponed most of its virtual Pride Month events “to support communities impacted by police brutality and systemic racism.” With local groups celebrating in an online rather than physical space, hackers are disrupting those venues. Operation Pridefall, a far-right effort to force corporations to retract financial and verbal support of LGBTQ movement, organized on 4chan in May. Followers were encouraged to “drop a ‘sh**ton [sic] of disturbing redpills on homosexuality on the comments,’ specifically on brand pages promoting Pride on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.”
The pain and possibility of thwarted gay pride celebrations – CNN – 6/6/2020
These dueling atmospheres make the fact that the pandemic has largely thwarted Pride Month — exactly five decades after activists assembled New York City’s inaugural Christopher Street Liberation Day March, held to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots — feel all the more profound. LGBTQ Americans, however, are no monolith. While many have found little more than sadness in a season of canceled floats and flags — and seized by agents of the state who are pummeling the very tradition of protest — others have detected an opportunity to reimagine an event that, for a variety of reasons, can sometimes divide the family.
How Pride Evolved From an Anti-Police Action to a Brand Sponsored Parade – Vice – 6/8/2020
Gerard Koskovich, an independent public historian and founding member of the GLBT Historical Society, said that media coverage of the arrests illustrates how much has changed between 1970 and 2020. One of the organizers of the gay-in told local press that attendees of the event “were engaged in peace and love” and “invited the officers to dismount from their horses” and partake in the festivities. “But instead they just wanted to persecute us. And if this persecution doesn’t stop, the only option will be armed revolution,” the participant said. “How many people think of armed revolution when they think of a Pride parade?” Koskovich asked with a laugh.
As Pride celebrations move online during the pandemic, who will hug the queer kids? – The Washington Post – 6/8/2020
This year, though, as celebrations are postponed, moved online or canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, my heart sinks as I wonder: Who will hug the queer kids in the absence of physical Pride events? For the queer youths who are not out or not supported at home, Pride offers a place to see allies and parents showing up for all LGBTQ youths. It gives them hope that things will get better. Many queer kids need a hug from a supportive parent.
LA Pride Organizers Apologize After Involving Police In Upcoming Solidarity Protest – The Daily Wire – 6/6/2020
The organization claimed that as they “quickly mobilized” the event, they “overlooked the direct police involvement” associated with protest permits, and further explained that they “understand that clearly goes against the demands for systemic police reform.” According to KTLA-5, the 50th anniversary of the Pride parade was cancelled due to coronavirus, but instead of rescheduling it, the event organizers decided to plan a Black Lives Matter solidarity march to rally “against the systemic social injustice the black community faces everyday.”
Does rioting work? Here are five times it did. – Big Think – 6/6/2020
Unlike the other riots on this list, the immediate effects of Stonewall were oriented more towards psychological and activist outcomes rather than changes in the legal system. Raids on gay bars continued, but gay newspapers, organizations, and activist groups sprang up like flowers in the spring. Two years to the day of the riot, the first Pride parades took place
Stitcher on Twitter, 6/8/2020: (1/3) Pride was born out of the Stonewall Uprising which started after Police raided The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar, arresting 13 people, during and after the raid activists such as Marsha P Johnson, a Black Gender Non Conforming Drag Queen, and Stormé DeLarverie, a Black Lesbian,
JOE on Twitter, 6/8/2020: Pride celebrations worldwide have been cancelled for the first time since the Stonewall riots. Pride started not as a party, but a protest.
Powell’s Books on Twitter, 6/8/2020: Pride isn’t “cancelled” this year, it’s going back to its roots. Without riots, there wouldn’t be Pride parades and parties every June. Check out this list of books that provide a great starting point for a Pride history lesson here
Madam President on Twitter, 6/7/2020: During Pride Month, it’s important to remember: the reason we can celebrate pride is because of a riot led by queer people of color. #PrideMonth
CCF on Twitter, 6/8/2020: 50 years ago this month, #LosAngeles held its first #Pride march which was the world’s first gay pride parade. Even though there might not be parades this year, lets celebrate #Pride2020 together. We are committed to our strong, diverse & vibrant LGBTQ+ community. #LAtogether
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib on Twitter, 6/8/2020: This #PrideMonth, we all have a unique responsibility to remember, celebrate, and honor the Black #LGBTQ activists who risked their lives to make the month-long celebration and progress society has made toward accepting the fact that #loveislove possible.