Call To Action: 50 Years Since Stonewall — These are our streets
The current political moment is marked by a normalized hate, with the Trump Administration pursuing White supremacist, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, anti-women, anti-Muslim, and anti-poor policies. It is a time for resistance, not “celebration” and by looking through social media feeds of various “Equality Inc NGOs”, it seems like that message has been heard, or has it?
If you are skeptical about the preformative call to actions led by the “Equality” movement, namely Pride Inc., to lift up trans lives on the 50th anniversary of Stonewall this year, you are not alone.
Our struggle was not only to bring Pride, but the ‘Equality’ Movement as a whole; back to its roots. This year — as we watch Pride and Equality Inc grapple with a movement that is becoming increasingly self aware of its birthplace amongst radical trans women of color — No Justice No Pride will be mobilizing with our communities, taking direct action in DC and elsewhere to continue Marsha and Sylvia’s legacies. We are also continuing our community support projects that were founded out of necessity and inspired by acts of solidarity throughout history such as the legendary S.T.A.R. House, and the Black Panthers breakfast program.
Will you join us? (skip our summary on why we are skeptical and why you should be too)
Why we are skeptical and why you should be too.
Almost two years ago, when we disrupted Capital Pride for failing to hear the concerns of community — we shifted the narrative. We were joined by autonomous groups around the world. While many called our tactics “Disgusting” and “Disgraceful”, called us terrorists, even urged our places of employment to fire us, and claimed we were dividing the LGBTQ Community; the reality is we only brought forth the deep fissures boiling beneath the surface for decades.
Peter Staley, an ACT UP veteran noted a relatable experience in an interview with The Georgia Voice not long after NJNP and others around the country took action: “We really pissed off the gay intelligentsia,” “We were despised by an entire section of the gay community,” referring to those who are appalled that No Justice No Pride would dare target our own. Peter continued, even if, in retrospect, gay men view ACT UP as heroes who changed the world. “And we just ignored it at the time.”
Since then, we’ve seen this movement of radical trans and queer activism continue to grow. With ongoing attacks from the Trump Administration; we are now entering a time where Equality Inc. can’t continue white/cis washing radical Trans and Queer legacies, so they are forced to co-opt them. It’s worth noting that the broad social movement for LGBT rights always benefited from the material and confrontational tactics of the likes of black and brown trans women & others and that normative social structures were always more ready to accept or co-opt the agendas of white middle class groups.
The first Pride March took place in June 1970 and it commemorated the Stonewall riots of June 1969. These riots were a direct response to police oppression and brutality, and saw trans women of color, some of whom were sex workers; at the forefront of a diverse group of LGBTQ+ people.
“Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. These are the foremothers of the modern-day queer rights movement. Like the women above, they are trans women. In its inception, the queer rights movement was not characterized by beer and vodka sponsorship and whitewashed Pride parades with police protection.”
- Threads of Solidarity: WOC Against Racism—
While it’s important to recognize (and many acknowledge this) that Pride was started because of a riot, that it was led by radical black and brown trans women and queer folk; what is even more critical is to recognize is Marsha and Sylvia helped kick off the Stonewall riots when she and other patrons of the Stonewall Inn refused to quietly submit to arrest during one of the periodic police raids. But as the once radical LGBTQ+ movement was consolidated into the non-profit industrial complex, Gay/Equality Inc. formed and then worked tirelessly to assimilate itself into mainstream cis-hetero systems of power — that depend upon white supremacy, patriarchy, imperialism, settler colonialism, and other systems of oppression.
This push for wider acceptance exacerbated hidden divides as those closer to these systems of power distanced themselves from issues that affect trans folks especially those who are black, brown, Muslim, migrants, and Native. Trans leaders from the days of stonewall like Sylvia Rivera were pushed to the edges. “it was like, ‘We don’t need you no more.’” Rivera said In a 1995 Village Voice interview.
While others who were a part of those nights 50 years ago are rightfully questioning who invited the police to the annual celebrations that takes place to commemorate the riots.
“I don’t know who invited those motherfuckers to be in the Pride parade, but they are the most detrimental thing to ever happen, why would you invite a shark to swim with you naked in the sea because you like sharks?”
“These motherfuckers are only out to arrest, put us in jail, lock us up, beat us up, get us to suck their dick, and then kick us out of their car naked to go home. Happened to me twice, I know exactly what I’m talking about,” she shared.
Our Call to Resistance
Sooooo Yes, It is a time for resistance, not “celebration” and despite some drinking that sour tea, we mostly seem to agree. But a resistance to what? To ban trans military service — Which ignores the grave injustices carried out by the U.S. military and the military industrial complex? Is it The Blue Wave Resistance? Is it a new version of the same neoliberal and colonialist forces that we sought to disrupt in the first place masked in a more edgy, “diverse” facade?
As No Justice No Pride takes action to continue Marsha and Sylvia’s legacies, we call on others to join us in our demands for holistic solutions based on abolitionist principles for those most on the margins in the LGBTQ Community — particularly for Black and brown trans women, non-binary, two-spirit, gender non-conforming and queer people of color; for those engaged in the sex trade, for those fleeing violence in other countries — often caused or escalated by US Military or Economic interventions and other violence, for those who are criminalized by the police and developer bought politicians, for indigenous communities fighting to preserve the Native sovereignty on unceded lands and for all the land defenders and water protectors — that target systemic forces and root causes.
Whether it be your local Pride organization or another ‘well intentioned allied” institution complicit in white supremacy, we call on radical anti-racist trans and queer organizers to build, organize and mobilize to truly take our movement back to the roots!
Find out below on ways to plug in where you are located.
In DC — For many years, Capital Pride has ignored the concerns of queer, trans, Black, Latinx, and Two-Spirit communities in D.C. regarding its complicity with entities that harm LGBTQ2S people. Since March 2017, No Justice No Pride has been working to ensure that Capital Pride addresses our concerns. We’ve been dismissed many times, but over time we’ve been able to agree on some things and have gotten small victories as well as disappointment — many of the original demands that came out of the mobilization in 2017 have not been met.Read our brief summary on where things with Capital Pride is at.
This year we will be mobilizing again in DC, while it may not be targeting Capital Pride, it will target systemic forces and root causes.
We are formalizing our plans, and for now that is all we can say aside from stay tuned for announcements for involvement in for our Action Camp this spring and to sign up for alerts on how you can plug into that planning below:
Did you organize a pride disruption in past years? Looking to make changes in your local pride or LGBTQ2S Movement this year? Have you started a No Justice No Pride group in your area? We want to connect with you. We’re working on building out a network of folks working to make changes around pride in their communities and want to know where are folks are! Let’s share tactics, strategies and resources. Please fill out this form for more.
About No Justice No Pride: No Justice No Pride is a collective of organizers and activists from across the District of Columbia. We exist to end the LGBT movement’s complicity with systems of oppression that further marginalize queer and trans individuals. Our members are black, brown, queer, trans, gender nonconforming, bisexual, indigenous, two-spirit, formerly incarcerated, disabled, white allies and together we recognize that there can be no pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.
About NJNP’s Trans Justice Program: Since its inception The Trans Justice program has been involved in coalitions around Decriminalizing Sex Work and Fare Evasion as well as other community safety oriented coalitions. Over the past year we’ve adjusted more and more to focusing on Emergency Rapid Response Support and mutual aid for TPOC: including housing, emergency care support, fundraising, legal support, and employment help.
About The NJNP Collective: Violence against sex workers often go unreported and unaddressed. Homelessness greatly exacerbates the violence an individual can experience as well as the dependency on the sex trade itself. We know this well at the NJNP Collective — which was created as an intentional community home for Trans current and former sexworkers in search of safe housing… read more