BY Tulliz Moriah

Disclaimer: this article occasionally uses the terms "Gay" and "Queer" as an umbrella term for identities that are part of the LGBTQIA+ community

With companies opting for the trendy black square instead of the rainbow logo change this June, you may not have noticed that it’s Pride Month.

The exponential growth in awareness and activism for the Black Lives Matter movement just so happens to coincide with the Queer community’s annual LGBTQIA+ Pride Month this year — but make no mistake, Pride is stronger than ever.

You may or may not have seen this tweet circulating (TW: homophobia):

(Yes, it’s THAT Kaitlin Bennett.)

So, have the BLM protests cancelled Pride Month? Short answer - no, they haven’t, not even close. Pride Month is literally a commemoration of a riot against police brutality. A riot that was led by Black people and people of colour. If you hear the name ‘Stonewall’ and can only think of that gay bar on Oxford Street that you try getting into every Mardi Gras, then it’s high time for a history lesson.

On the 28th of June 1969, a clandestine gay bar known as the ‘Stonewall Inn’ in New York City was raided by police. At this point in time, homosexual acts were still illegal, (same-sex sexual conduct wasn’t decriminalised by the US Supreme Court until 2003) so bars that were known to support the queer community were often subject to police raids. This particular raid at Stonewall stood out against all others because it was the one where just about everybody decided to fight back. Chaos broke out as bystanders could no longer witness police brutalising the drag queens and gender-nonconforming patrons that they sought to arrest.

Many different accounts of this night cite that anything from shot glasses to bricks and molotov cocktails were thrown that night, accompanied by Rockettes-style kicklines and a parking meter battering ram. Some people call it an uprising, others call it a rebellion, but they are more commonly known as the Stonewall riots.

But what do these riots have to do with Black lives? Let me introduce you to Marsha P. Johnson, Stormé DeLaverie, and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy. A trans drag queen, a butch lesbian, and a trans community leader respectively, these are three of the Queer icons who were there that night, at the forefront of the Stonewall uprising. They were also Black. Although speculation of who started the riots or ‘who threw the first brick’ continues to this day, these three were pioneers for the Queer community long before Stonewall, and used their influence that night to join in and support the fight. 

It is important to recognise the intersection of Pride Month and BLM. Black Lives Matter has no room for people who want to cherry pick which particular Black lives “deserve" to matter. Allyship needs to be intersectional. Black lives matter. Black queer lives matter. Black trans lives matter. Black disabled lives matter. Black homeless lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. In order to be an ally of one, you must be an ally of all.

So no, Pride Month has not been cancelled. It has not been overshadowed. Pride Month is a celebration of oppressed peoples rising up against an unjust system. Pride is louder than ever. 

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