Reclaiming Pride: A desire to redirect a movement

On May 24 activists gathered in Washington Square Park to mourn the loss of three Black trans women who had been killed within weeks of each other.  

Tamika Washington, Muhlaysia Booker and Claire Legato are only three names of numerous trans women of color taken from us too soon. Their deaths point to a crisis of violence and hate impacting this community.  

Sadly, many of the same activists were out only a few weeks later on June 11 to mourn the death of Layleen Cubilette-Polanco/Xtravaganza, an Afro-Latinx trans woman who died in her cell at Rikers Island. That the criminal-legal system refused to take Layleen’s life-threatening medical condition seriously and put Layleen’s bail at $500, which was beyond her means, point to the ways in which state institutions specifically destroy Black and Brown trans women and remain institutions of terror for all Black, Brown and working-class communities. 

Black Trans Lives Matter!

These losses also point to a deeper issue in the wider LGBTQ2S+ community. It is because of the failure to protect the most marginalized in our community — our trans sisters of color — that many of us are seeking to “Reclaim Pride.” 

With this the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, many of us have learned to speak of the roots of our movement in the language of opposing police violence. We have learned to uplift the names of Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. This is not enough. We must protect the living. We must redirect our movement.

As New York prepares for World Pride/Stonewall 50, the entire city has become a candyland spectacle dedicated to rainbow capitalism. The spirit of fightback and the language of struggle are erased by the cooptation of capitalism. Police will be out in full force surrounding the Pride Parade, and they are still allowed to participate despite their continual threat to the oppressed. That parade will be saturated with politicians, corporations and police, all of whom continue to use and/or abuse the LGBTQ2S+ community.

The Reclaim Pride Coalition has instead called the Queer Liberation March, a historic people’s march that will be political and celebratory. Its goal is to recenter the marginalized and to create a space in which the larger community can begin work to redirect our movement toward complete and total liberation for all of the oppressed. 

This march was built through coalition in the spirit of the original uprising at Stonewall and in the spirit of intersectionality. We will be marching from Sheridan Square to Central Park, retracing the route of the first 1970 Christopher Street Liberation Day March

In honor of our dead, in honor of our freedom fighters, in honor of the Black and Latinx trans women whom we’ve lost, we will be Reclaiming Pride! 

More information about the Queer Liberation March can be found at reclaimpridenyc.org.

Colin Ashly

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Colin Ashly

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