The LGBTQIA+ community understands all too well the feelings of oppression and marginalization, and the importance of ally support, in creating real change. It’s the reason the LGBTQIA+ community must activate its many voices in support of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) in their fight for equity and human dignity.
Throughout history — here and around the world — there are countless examples of discrimination and violence against entire populations. From the genocide of Indigenous communities, to the forced relocation and concentration camp incarceration of Japanese Americans, to hate crimes against those identifying as LGBTQIA+. We’ve also seen systemic racism — both blatant and subtle — perpetrated against BIPOC communities which continue to play out with the killings of George Floyd in Minnesota, Tony McDade in Florida, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and too many others.
This month, as we recognize LGBTQIA+ Pride, Seattle Pride and the region’s other Pride organizations also dedicate ourselves to BIPOC communities with which our struggles are intertwined and inextricable. They deserve our full measure of solidarity, love and action — through police accountability and reform, speaking out against racism, and helping elevate too long unamplified voices.
Advocate for police accountability and reform
As with all important movements, ours too began with a protest against violence, brutality and police misconduct, which spurred the Stonewall Rebellion led by a Black transgender woman. Fifty-one years later we need to work with Seattle’s LGBTQ Commission in partnership with the BIPOC communities to be a loud, consistent voice to Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle Police Department to stop criminalizing communities of color. This should start with a community forum to heighten the conversation so we can begin to enact tangible proposals, measurable goals and timelines to address biased policing and excessive force — and to shift the policing culture to one whose mindset, words and actions demonstrate a respect for Black and brown lives. Any society that permits this level of aggression and brutality, especially in an institution with the power and responsibility of enforcing laws, must end.
Speak out against racism
The best way we can honor our LGBTQIA+ history is to stand up for injustices in a new way, so we can move together toward a world where diversity is embraced, mutual respect is practiced and equal rights are achieved. We call upon our white LGBTQIA+ community members to actively embrace the work of anti-racism and denounce white supremacy wherever, whenever and however it surfaces across our lives.
Amplify voices in Pride
It’s impossible to fully celebrate the advancement of LGBTQIA+ equality when systemic racism persists and police brutality continues to take the lives of our BIPOC community. Rather, in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, protesters across disciplines and platforms, and activists of all levels of experience, this year’s “Together For Pride” three-day online event June 26-28 will elevate content centered on activism and on BIPOC voices and artists. To paraphrase poet Maya Angelou, while we have always been inclusive in our programming, this year we are especially focused on what more we can learn, so we can do better.
Just as with Stonewall, we are experiencing a time in history where we will be remembered for our actions. We owe it to ourselves, as individuals and a community, to those who led the struggle before us and to future generations to continue advancing awareness of all oppressed communities. In the words of poet and activist Emma Lazarus, “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.”
This year’s Pride will serve as a reflection of this transformative time and is being recorded for future generations. We, Seattle’s LGBTQIA+ community, have an important role in taking on this fight — as part of realizing a collective future in which authenticity is embraced, diversity is honored, mutual respect is practiced, and equal human rights are achieved for all.