LGBTQ Pride Month started as a commemoration of the Stonewall Inn six-day protests in 1969. Since the first Pride event in 1970, June has become synonymous with a global celebration of the LGBTQ community, garnering the support of celebrities, politicians, and multinational corporations.
But despite Pride Month’s barrage of rainbow-flag marketing and the overall shift toward a celebratory tone, Pride Month is and has always been about radical protest and the fight for equal protection and dignity. The movement that grew from that historical moment on June 28, 1969, in New York was spurred by the over-policing of LGBTQ communities, something that disproportionately continues today in Texas and across the nation.
Police were able to target the Stonewall Inn, a bar frequented by gay men and trans women, because laws and policies criminalized homosexuality, queer identities, and anyone who did not conform to cisgender norms. In a massive overreach of authority and abuse of power, the New York Police Department vice unit arrested members of the LGBTQ community — people who were simply striving to be among each other in a safe space, free from the stigma and stereotypes of the day.
While it is no longer illegal to simply exist in society as a member of the LGBTQ community, in Texas, lawmakers continue to use LGBTQ people as fodder to fuel a culture war of their own making. Our state’s policy systems antagonize and marginalize us to an extent that puts our lives in danger. During the 2021 legislative session alone, elected officials attempted to pass 33 anti-LGBTQ laws. They even went so low as to attack trans youth, attempting to strip young people of gender-affirming medical care and prevent them from being their true selves at school through participation in sports. All 33 failed during the regular session.
Trans women of color often face the worst consequences of the complex and intersecting maze of discrimination, and with deadly consequences. Texas ranks as one of the deadliest states for trans women of color. In May 2021, we lost Tiffany Thomas, a Black trans woman who was a victim of violence in Dallas. How can we expect trans women of color like Thomas to survive, let alone thrive, if Texas politicians promote a culture of discrimination against them through antagonistic legislation?
On this anniversary Stonewall, we continue to demand justice for members of the LGBTQ community in Texas and worldwide. We demand safety and the right to exist in society without stigma, without harassment and without bias for being ourselves. That’s hard to do when politicians in Texas continue attempting to deny our humanity at the state Capitol and in our own communities.
In this month of Pride, the beauty of the LGBTQ community shines through organizations like the House of Rebirth, Casa Anandrea, and Transsaints. These groups work to empower Black and Brown trans Texans and provide them with resources, a community network, and a safe and accepting space. Their work bridges the gaps that trans people often face, including access to housing and stable work, due to discrimination. As Texans, we should support these organizations and uphold our radically inclusive values. Without it, we might find ourselves right back in New York City circa 1969.
As we move out of Pride Month, our work continues on in the fight for LGBTQ rights. We’re gearing up for the legislative special session if SB 29 — the trans youth sports ban — comes back as a priority item as our lieutenant governor has threatened. Sign up here to stay up to date with ways to act.