On Sunday June 25th, New York City kicked off its annual LGBT Pride March. The streets, as usual, were lined with excited people of many races, religions, ages, genders, and sexualities. Pride flags, most noticeably the rainbow, were displayed on clothing, accessories, in hair, and on flags of varying sizes (I was quite pleased to see more transgender flags than I have in the past few years, including mine that was draped over my shoulders the whole day).
“It’s quite amazing how far we’ve come in terms of rights and visibility.”
It’s quite amazing how far we’ve come in terms of rights and visibility. But in today’s world of political discord, fear, and unanswered questions, we know we have to fight to protect what we have worked so hard to get. This year’s march was lined with protests and reminders that we’ve come so far, but have so far to go.
As the grand marshals drove down 5th avenue, I noticed the recently freed whistle-blower Chelsea Manning was riding in a car beside Gavin Grimm. It made me think of both of their stories and the marks they’ve made. In a way, both of them being there showed the resilience of the transgender community and our spirit that will never be broken! However, a group of people carrying signs with the names of the transgender people murdered this year leading up to the parade gave us all a grim reminder of with each victory for us, there’s still danger we need to protect ourselves and each other from. The electing of Trump has seemed to escalate hate crimes even more so, and we need to remain vigilant.
Speaking of the 2016 election, one thing that stood out to me was the number of anti-Trump protests. Many of them were about “TrumpCare”, one group with the slogan, “TrumpCare Makes Us Sick” while pushing a gurney that had a fake dead body covered with a sheet on it. Another group called “Rise and Resist” marched with signs that designated Trump, Pence, DeVos and others as “Queer Bashers.” Many have seized the opportunity of this pride season to speak out loudly against the current political world. Though initially promising to be a “friend” of LGBT people, Trump has proven time and again he is far from that. From things like refusing to acknowledge June as National Pride Month, to signing an executive order that allows “religious” discrimination towards anyone LGBT, we have gone from a president who celebrated when same-sex marriage was made legal nation-wide in 2015 to someone who is trying to erase us.
“Let me take this moment to remind you all- these are frightening times we live in.”
Let me take this moment to remind you all- these are frightening times we live in. As I stated before, we’ve come so far but have so far to go. If anything, these protests have shown the growth of the LGB(and especially)T community and the strength we carry. We will not lay down and die at the whim of any political figure!
A striking protest that was not directed specifically at our current White House administration was the Gays Against Guns group, who had a crowd of people marching silently in white clothing and veils, each carrying a sign with a victim of the Pulse massacre that occurred in Orlando last June. The ongoing debate over the specifics of the right allotted by the second amendment- the right to bare arms- was again brought to attention. The shooting at Pulse claimed the lives of 49 LGBT people and gave strength to the side that wants to ban guns, or at least impose stricter regulations. With the constant back and forth from both sides of the issue, however, I fear that nothing will ever really be done about gun violence. Not as long as we are in this tug-of-war over the issue.
The most notable protest was when twelve people were arrested for directly obstructing the parade, in protest of the continuation of police groups being celebrated at pride while cases of anti-LGBT and anti-POC brutality go unpunished and often not apologized for. The protesters, carrying signs that protested the shooter of Philando Castile getting off scot-free, were allowed ten full minutes of protest before event staff authorized the arrests so the parade could continue. This leads us to the question of whether it is right to allow police groups to march. There are (too many) cops who are homophobic, racist, transphobic, etc. There are also many cops whom are LGBT and/or of color. But if we let the police groups march at pride, there needs to be more done to address and control police violence towards minorities! As was a popular slogan at the march, none of us are free until we all are!
I’m not surprised to see all the protests, and honestly I’m quite pleased to see so many. Pride is platform to celebrate what we’ve accomplished, and to be loud about what still needs to be done. I hope everyone had a happy and safe pride month, wherever you are!