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“Pride month” commemorates the anti-police stonewall riots of late June 1969, when gays, drag queens, trans people, and other ancestors of today’s queer, trans, and otherwise gender-varient and/or non-straight-sexual people literally fought to free themselves from police repression and societal marginalization. There are more than a few groups and individuals carrying that torch forward but you wouldn’t know it, looking at all the corporate floats and mainstream flag-waving that went on today and throughout the month. Some gayness has found its way to normalcy, assimilation, and co-optation and some of its constituency and profiteers want to sit back, cash in, and celebrate a previous generation’s struggle and a present generations triumph over bygone wicked times. Celebration is fantastic but without continued resistance, it makes no sense.
Think about it: the stonewall rioters of 69 fought to expel the police and deny them their routine of raiding, arresting, jailing, beating, and assaulting their people and their scene. While it is now a lot more legal for queer and gender-variant people to congregate in bars etc, police invasion and control has reached new heights with “stop and frisk” tactics and operation clean halls which brings harassment and ID checks into NYC apartments– just like people were lined up and ID’d in places like the Stonewall Inn and arrested for not conforming to their assigned sex as read by police. And how much has changed there?- as trans people are still discriminated against in terms of IDs, access to healthcare, and access to social services. There’s also the proliferation of the various prison systems in which “Trans women are up to 15 times more likely to be incarcerated than the general population, “ and once in, they tend to be housed in male prisons and put at risk for rape, assault, and abuse. Many trans women of color were killed this year in the united states, hundreds of trans people are killed globally each year, and as the story often goes, CeCe McDonald, a trans woman of color who defended herself from a bigoted transphobic racist attack was recently convicted of manslaughter and put in a male prison. These are just a few examples.
Stonewall veterans and revolutionaries like Sylvia Rivera founded groups like the Gay Liberation Front and STAR (Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries) and worked with the Black Panthers and Young Lords. She didn’t restrict herself to gay rights nor did she take opportunities to become an assimilated victor, not that she had them.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have any problem with pride, celebration, and festivities. In fact, I love them. I just take issue with the mainstream delusion that the fight is over and that queerness can be divorced from other social struggles. It was wonderful marching with the Trans Day of Action in NYC as well as the Drag March. When pride and celebration of who and what we are comes from a rich and broad spectrum of light– when the rainbow comes from the rain as well as the sunshine, when we know there is more struggling to do but we celebrate anyway, that is a truly beautiful thing. And that’s why I love June. There really is a lot to be proud of.
This was a quick rant. For further reading, of a more thoughtful variety, check out. . .