Pride month marks the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City, which is credited as the catalyst for the modern-day movement for LGBTQ+ rights in the United States. This June also marks the fourth anniversary of Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court case that affirmed and legalized the right to same-sex marriage in all fifty states. Despite the progress that has been made, the movement for LGBTQ+ rights didn’t stop at marriage equality. While the Supreme Court recently ruled that federal employment discrimination laws protect LGBTQ+ employees, LGBTQ+ people can still be denied services, access to public accommodations, and barred from fostering or adopting. Aside from the lack of legal protections, LGBTQ+ people are more vulnerable to poverty and targeted violence, and many young LGBTQ+ people are at a higher risk for homelessness because of their identity.
As reproductive justice organizers, we recognize that LGBTQ+ equality is essential to our fight for liberation, and that we must center our human right to bodily autonomy and ability to live our lives free from violence and discrimination.
This Pride month, I encourage you to honor the movement’s history of direct action, and remember that you can still protest from home. While the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has cancelled and postponed Pride events around the world, there are still many ways to take action this month:
- Educate yourself. The movement for LGBTQ+ rights didn’t start at Stonewall, and it certainly didn’t end there.There are plenty of resources online that explore the events leading up to the Stonewall riots. The Library of Congress has a resource list with archival photos, video footage and documents. You can also check your local library to see if there’s any local LGBTQ+ history that has been archived. The D.C. Library, for example, has digital copies of Women in the Life, a magazine from the late 90’s for Black lesbians in the city.Pride is also an opportunity to learn about the activists behind the movement, including Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Harvey Milk, Edith Windsor, Alice Nkom, Barbara Gittings, and Stormé DeLarverie – just to name a few!
- Attend a virtual Pride event. Many cities across the country are moving their Pride events online to talk about the issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community.With local Pride events being broadcast from New York City, and Washington, D.C., as well as Global Pride events, there are plenty of ways to celebrate from the comfort of your own home.
- Support local LGBTQ+ organizations. Many community based groups are working to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people. Some groups are working to provide necessities such as housing, gender-affirming clothing, and food while others are working to advance LGBTQ+ rights through advocacy and organizing.
- In D.C., No Justice No Pride (NJNP), a collective of organizers and activists, is well known for their protests against police inclusion at Capital Pride. In addition to their direct action work, NJNP has a number of campaigns, including a Collective Housing initiative, which provides free housing for brown and Black trans women in the District.
- In Missouri, PROMO is a statewide organization that advocates for LGBTQ equality through legislation, community education and grassroots action. PROMO also runs the SAGE Fund, which supports older LGBTQ people.
- In Wisconsin, Diverse and Resilient is a Milwaukee-based organization dedicated to achieving health equity and improving the safety and well-being of LGBTQ people. Diverse and Resilient has supported the demands and efforts provided by local and national Black and POC lead organizations, and is working to organize supplies for protestors, clean the streets, offer relief funds, and other support as needed.
- In New York City, the Audre Lorde Project (ALP) is a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People of Color center for community organizing. ALP leads the Safe OUTside the System Collective, an anti-violence program that challenges police violence in the city. Also in New York, the Third Wave Fund is a queer and trans led activist fund that provides resources and support for youth-led Gender Justice activism.
- If you can, be visible. LGBTQ+ voices need to be amplified on the issues that impact them. The commercial visibility of Pride over the past few years often excludes the voices of those most marginalized within the movement for LGBTQ+ rights. In addition, the assumption that corporate support for Pride equals victory for the movement ignores the issues many still face today.
Talking about queer issues and affirming a spectrum of sexual orientations and gender identities can help those who aren’t ready or able to be out. As activists, we must consider who gets to be included in Pride? Who is excluded? And center those people in our work.
To learn more about the intersection of reproductive justice and LGBTQ+ rights, check out the National Task Force’s Queering Reproductive Justice toolkit, and Reproaction’s Reclaiming Pride webinar.