We had something different planned for Pride Month this year. Then, George Floyd was murdered.
The truth is, it’s hard to feel pride when we’re so fed up with watching our friends and neighbors die at the hands of police. We’re fed up with checking the news to see peaceful protesters and journalists bruised and bloodied by rubber bullets and toxic chemicals. We’re just fed up, so rainbow-colored treats and dance playlists seem pretty frivolous right now.
But the thing about Pride is that it is, always has been, and always will be about the fight for justice. And that fight can’t exist without the voices of LGBTQ+ people of color.
In the 1960s in New York City, one of the most prominent LGBTQ+ rights activists was Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans woman who worked tirelessly to advance justice and keep her people safe. She led the Stonewall uprising that began on June 28, 1969 and gave us what we now consider to be our first Pride march.
50 years later, here in Minnesota, I look around and see Black LGBTQ+ leaders like Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham working toward a better, safer, more equitable state. I see people like WNBA star Seimone Agustus and RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Bebe Zahara Benet, LGBTQ+ icons who made their careers in Minnesota, use their platforms to demand systemic change and uplift Black voices.
All of the rights and freedoms I enjoy as an LGBTQ+ person are thanks in part to the work of pioneering activists of color. And I believe that this Pride month should serve as a call to action for white LGBTQ+ Minnesotans and their allies to educate themselves about racial justice and join in the fight. Because, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King jr, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” And when Black LGBTQ+ Minnesotans are subject to violence and prejudice, none of us can rest.
This Pride Month, consider donating to an organization that advances racial justice in Minnesota. Deliver supplies to families in need as our neighborhoods recover and heal. Support Black artists and Black-owned businesses. Learn about Black LGBTQ+ leaders in history. Amplify Black LGBTQ+ Minnesotans who are fighting for change today. Read a book about racial justice. Reach out to your elected leaders and let them know that you demand justice for LGBTQ+ Minnesotans and Minnesotans of color. Do something to help make Minnesota better.
Next June, hopefully, we’ll be able to gather together in joyous celebration again, to wear glitter and rainbows in the street with thousands of our friends and dance and march and sing. But right now, this June, honoring Pride means fighting for justice. For Black Minnesotans, for LGBTQ+ Minnesotans, for George Floyd, for all of us.