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This week marks the beginning of Pride Month. Due to COVID-19, this year’s Pride was already going to look different than any other. We were gearing up for digital events, virtual marches, social media campaigns, and other online means of connecting, celebrating the progress in the recognition of our human rights, and mobilizing to push for the many changes still needed on the road to full equality.
But last week in the US began with the horrifying news that yet another African American, George Floyd, died senselessly as the result of police brutality. The video of Mr. Floyd’s killing demonstrated yet again the ongoing violence against Black people in America, including the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, racist threats against Chris Cooper, and many other people whose experiences were not caught on camera. Many of these include Black and Brown queer and especially trans people, who suffer an alarming wave of violence here in the US and around the world.
In the week since, cities around the US, and now the world, have erupted into protests against racism and police brutality against African Americans and Black people globally. I cannot imagine celebrating now. Nor can I focus on LGBTIQ equality without recommitting OutRight to the struggle against racism and police brutality.
We cannot forget that the LGBTIQ movement also started with violent protests against police brutality, back in 1969, outside the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village. These riots were led by trans women of color who have always been at the forefront of our movement, then and now.
OutRight has also learned much from the struggle for Black liberation in the US and globally. Much of our own work is focused on collaborating with partners to fight the legacy of colonialism and imperialism - precursors to the white supremacy and racism we face today. This work has been shaped by a long history of Black leaders in and around OutRight. To name but a few, I am thinking of FannyAnn Eddy (Sierra Leone), Joel Nana (Cameroon), Kagendo Murungi (Kenya), David Kato (Uganda), Charlot Jeudy (Haiti), may they rest in peace and power. Black staff, board, international advisors, and partners past and present have emphasized and influenced our allyship, often by challenging us and holding us accountable. We will continue listening to them, supporting their leadership and amplifying their voices.
I invite you to read my reflections on the links between the movements for LGBTIQ equality and racial justice in an opinion piece published on Openly News today. And my personal reflections on the events currently unfolding in the US on OutRight’s blog. Indeed, our movements are not separate - there can be no Pride without also fighting anti-blackness and recommitting our movement to the struggle against racism everywhere.
So this year and every year, we are celebrating #PrideWithAPurpose. OutRight wants to uplift and support the vital work of organizations that are actively working for racial justice, and we encourage you to do the same by making a financial contribution and getting involved. Here are a few suggestions:
Black Lives Matter Global Network
Black Women’s Blueprint
The Emergency Response Fund of the National Bail Fund Network
If you want more tips on how to get involved, the article 26 Ways to Be in the Struggle Beyond the Streets is a great read!
I’m not sure yet how the recent murders of George Floyd and other Black Americans will change OutRight, but I know that they have challenged us to think more deeply about what we can do to dismantle the systems of inequality that oppress all LGBTIQ people and people of color. They also remind me, as I am reminded every Pride month, that our rage disrupts the status quo. That our liberation movements are powerful. And that when we organize, for 30 years and much longer, we change the world around us. But even the most resilient get tired of waiting. In honor of George Floyd and so many others, let change happen now.
Published on June 10, 2020 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization