June is the month we mark our calendars to honor and celebrate the fightback courage and resistance of the LGBTQ community. Pride Month originated in rebellions by LGBTQ people in 1966 at Compton’s Cafeteria in Los Angeles and in 1969 at The Stonewall Inn in New York, sparking the modern gay liberation movement in the U.S.
What we should mark in our hearts to remember every day of the year is that those rising up in righteous anger were mostly trans people of color, gay youth hustling to survive on the streets, draft-resisting crossdressers, gender nonconforming lesbians, drag queens and kings — a complex spectrum of people of transmasculine and transfeminine identities and expressions.
Those rising up were, in fact, the very kinds of people targeted this year by the “bathroom bully” legislation against trans people in North Carolina, which also eliminated protections for lesbian, gay and bisexual people and for workers. Other states are making their own anti-trans laws, including Michigan with two hateful bills.
The people rising up on those hot summer nights in the 60s were resisting the state. They were resisting the police. They rose up because their small gathering places got raided by the same cops who routinely brutalized them for being queer people, poor people, people of color on the streets and in the bars.
Compton’s and Stonewall were rebellions by these LGBTQ people against state-sanctioned racist police repression.
So this Pride month let us honor the lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, genderqueer and non-binary people who have led and are leading resistance to racism and poverty, to state legislative violence, to police brutality.
We honor Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, Latina and African-American trans heroes of the Stonewall Rebellion. We honor CeCe McDonald, African-American trans woman who fought back against white supremacy and was sent to prison for it — and we honor our comrade Leslie Feinberg and the people worldwide who defended CeCe.
We honor the queer and gender-nonconforming founders and leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement, including Jasmine Abdullah Richards, targeted by the Pasadena police and recently convicted of a trumped-up felony charge for going to the aid of someone harassed by the cops.
We honor the queer and trans people of color leading the effort to overturn the bigoted HB2 legislation in North Carolina — those who are marching, sitting in, disrupting and creating a new future, those who are leading an LGBTQ rebellion that chants along with Assata Shakur, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”