June is Pride Month. It’s a time to celebrate our diverse community and all that we have achieved. I live my life as an out and proud Lesbian and every day I have the privilege of coming to work in a beautiful LGBTQ center, a place built to unite and celebrate our community.
But we can’t forget that the first Pride was a riot against continued police brutality and harassment of the gay community. What we have today would not be possible without the Stonewall Riots and the black and brown trans women, Marsha P. Johnson and Silvia Rivera, who are credited with starting the riots that lasted five days.
Our fight didn’t begin at the Stonewall Inn in 1969. LGBTQ people rioted in 1959 at Cooper Do-Nuts, a popular café in the Los Angeles gay community after repeated police harassment of patrons. In 1966 riots broke out at Compton’s Cafeteria in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco after police were repeatedly called on transgender women that frequented the restaurant. In 1967, undercover police infiltrated the Black Cat Tavern on New Year’s Eve and began beating and arresting gay patrons as they kissed to ring in the new year. It’s easy to forget this history if you are no longer subjected to unjust treatment by law enforcement.
I came to Greensboro in 1997 to attend college. Greensboro was the first place where I felt accepted and it saddens me to see boarded up windows downtown. But social media and the Internet have shown us the repeated brutality and murder of black and brown people, especially black transgender women and black men and we cannot look away.
The recent killing of George Floyd has sparked national protests and dialogue. I am asking you to reflect on the history of the LGBTQ fight for equality, remember what we owe to the brave transgender and gay black and brown people who were on the frontlines of the movement, and join us in support of racial justice. We must use our voices and our votes to create systemic change.
Guilford Green Foundation & LGBTQ Center believes that #BlackLivesMatter and we support the work towards racial justice and justice for George Floyd.
We stand with Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery. We stand with the 12 members of the trans community killed by violence this year: Dustin Parker, Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, Yampi Méndez Arocho, Monika Diamond, Lexi, Johanna Metzger, Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, Layla Pelaez Sánchez, Penélope Díaz Ramírez, Nina Pop, Helle Jae O’Regan, and Tony McDade.
In the words of Dr. King, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Guilford Green Foundation & LGBTQ Center