Given events in the world I think it is useful to remember one of the seminal events galvanizing the modern gay rights movement was the Stonewall uprising on June 28th, 1969.
As with so many of these events, it was a spontaneous uprising in response to harassment & violence perpetrated by the New York City police against a gay club in the Stonwall Inn. The raid by police sparked a riot among the black & brown gay & trans patrons & neighborhood residents.
On the one year anniversary thousands of people marched in America’s first gay pride parade.
Pictured above are two of the well known activists from that time. Marsha P. Johnson was an activist, self-identified drag queen, performer & survivor. She is often identified as a trans woman & was a force in the movement for LGBTQ+ rights during the Stonewall Riots & beyond. Along with Sylvia Rivera she established the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, which was a group committed to supporting trans youth experiencing homelessness in NYC. As with so many of her Black trans sisters, she was murdered in 1992, but her words & actions continue to inspire.
Sylvia Rivera was an advocate for trans rights, particularly trans people of color, & fought against their exclusion from the larger gay rights movement. She was born to Puerto Rican & Venezuelan parents & raised by her grandmother until running away at age 11. Meeting Marsha P. Johnson changed her life. She was involved in advocacy before Stonewall & long after. She died in 2002 of liver cancer.
Stonewall reminds us of the debt of gratitude we owe to black & brown trans women in the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights, that it often takes an uprising to move us forward.
They deserve to be remembered & celebrated & emulated in their activism on behalf of those who have been silenced, voiceless & unseen.
When we fight for those most at risk, we all benefit.
Sources: History.com, GLSEN.org, & WomensHistory.org