Updated: Jun 23, 2020
by Michael P. Lopez, Head of Marketing, Excuse My Accent
“We have to be visible. We should not be ashamed of who we are.” - Sylvia Rivera
The month of June kicks off LGBTQ Pride Month which commemorates the Stonewall Uprising in New York City. In the early hours of June 28, 1969, NYC police raided the Stonewall Inn - a known gay bar in Greenwich Village. Police raids were rampant during this time on gay establishments as the city’s goal was to rid itself of all gay bars to protect its image. But the raid on Stonewall that day was going to forever change history for the LGBTQ community. Stonewall patrons and others from surrounding bars in the Village, pleaded for their civil liberties, and this time they fought back. Over the course of several days, protests broke out in a fight for freedom. The revolution for gay liberation had begun. At the center of this movement were community activists Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans woman, and Sylvia Rivera, a Latina trans woman. Today their memories and the work they did for the community lives on as a reminder that we’ve come a long way in the fight for equal rights. But the fight isn’t over.
"How many years has it taken people to realize that we are all brothers and sisters and human beings in the human race?” - Marsha P. Johnson
Traditionally Pride Month is filled with festivals, parades, and celebrations across the world. It’s a time for the LGBTQ community and allies to come together to reflect on the progress we've made as a collective society. But this year, we are faced with a stark reminder that we have much more work to do. The usual celebrations have turned into mass protests, driven by a demand for change. People from across the world have come together to unite against systemic racism and the continued oppression of the Black community. Sadly, we’ve witnessed first hand the failures of our system. And once again we are a divided society that must rise up together to continue our fight for equality, justice, and freedom.
The power of protest is undeniable. A look back at history provides us with solid proof. From marches, to sit-ins, to boycotts, when we join together as a united front, change will happen. We’ve seen the power of protests and resilience of the human spirit over the last few weeks. No longer is there a place for hate, racism, and bigotry in our modern society.
"History isn't something you look back at and say it was inevitable, it happens because people make decisions that are sometimes very impulsive and of the moment, but those moments are cumulative realities." - Marsha P. Johnson?
So this month let’s reflect on the history of the fight and on the uprising in June 1969. Let the protests and voices of those that were oppressed then, remind us that through chaos and struggle comes change. As we honor the memories of Marsha and Sylvia, two women of color who fought against the system and trail-blazed the gay rights movement, we’ll embrace that the fight is worth repeating, until we are all equal. And in the spirit of Pride, we will persevere, stay vocal, and work towards change that we can all be proud of.