Amid Pride month and continued violence against Black lives, it’s crucial that we recognize the origins of Pride: born out of riots against police brutality at Compton’s Cafeteria and Stonewall, led by Black and POC trans women and drag queens—notably Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, among others. This is our history.
This violence isn’t new. State-sanctioned white supremacy has terrorized and oppressed BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities for centuries through systems designed to uphold this oppression. Black trans women—most recently, Riah Milton and Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells—continue to be murdered with impunity. This is our present reality.
This fight for racial justice intersects with—and is integral to—our LGBTQ+ movement. As we celebrate Monday’s historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling that companies do not have a right to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people in the workplace, we also recognize Black LGBTQ+ people still face disproportionate discrimination in workplaces and throughout their lives; this is especially true for our Black trans community members. It is particularly incumbent upon our cis and white community members to become better allies by learning, listening, and taking action. Those of us who can speak out must do so. This is our call to action.
The painful truth is that the mainstream LGBTQ+ movement has often discounted, erased, and excluded BIPOC LGBTQ+ people. In the SF LGBT Center’s own history, we have not always served our BIPOC community members in the ways that we should have. We know we have failed some in our community. We certainly haven’t always gotten it right. As an organization, we are working to learn and unlearn what a pervasive culture of white supremacy has instilled in all of us.
In recent years, the SF LGBT Center has redoubled our commitment to racial equity. Through actions like holding ongoing staff-wide racial equity trainings, creating an equity plan, and centering programs that serve those most marginalized in our community, we have committed to racial equity as a core tenet of our work. We certainly have more to do, and we embrace the work to come.
For many reasons, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the uprisings to defend Black lives, this Pride month will be very different. It should not and cannot be business as usual. Instead, this is a moment to reevaluate what we stand for and recommit to the fight ahead.
In order to uplift Black-led and -focused LGBTQ+ organizations that we are proud to work alongside, we are asking something a little different from you today:
Will you make a gift to one of these Black-led and -focused LGBTQ+ organizations doing vital work for our community?
Our collective liberation depends on what we do in this moment. Let’s show up in our actions, in our work, and loudly proclaim together: BLACK LIVES MATTER.
SF LGBT Center