Gay & Lesbian Review May-June 2019

the mafia-controlled Stonewall inn. other sites of resistance that predated Stonewall, both in 1966, included the “Sip in” at Julius’ Bar in newyork to protest the state liquor authority’s ban on serving “homosexuals” and the compton cafeteria Riots in San Francisco, which erupted after police harassed a trans woman and she resisted arrest by throwing coffee in an officer’s face. it is within this framework that activists of the ’60s and ’70s organized political marches to claim public space for sexual and gender nonconforming peo- ples and to insert their politics into the public sphere. over the years, however, these once po- litically charged marches have been trans- formed to accommodate the mainstream masses. corporate sponsorships have had a commercializing effect, turning marches into parades. the radical political critiques associated with organized trans/queer marches are rendered invisible through an æsthetic of celebration. “Pinkwashing,” as defined by Sarah Schulman, describes the process by which marketing and political strategies aim to promote products or countries by appearing “gay-friendly” and progressive. this helps explain why banks try to get parade-goers to open new checking accounts at these events, why Mcdonald’s employees will toss you a rainbow handkerchief with an enlarged logo on it, and why lockheed Martin—a top u.S. military contractor— has a military plane-themed float in the parade. these are not public displays that aid in the collective liberation of marginal people, but instead drape the imperial capitalist forces of the u.S. in literal rainbows. l gBtq +-identifying people in the u.S. and around the world are continually marginalized despite several “progress” narra- tives. By drawing attention to oppressive policing practices and the commodification of our communities, some organizations are trying to reorient the movement through the symbolic vehi- cle of “Pride.” T RANS /Q UEER A CTIVIST O RGANIZATIONS Before discussing the current situation in newyork city and the need for an alternative Pride event, let me introduce two critical incidents that occurred in other american cities—columbus, ohio, and washington, d.c.—and their aftermath. according to their website, the Black queer & intersectional collective (Bqic) “is a grassroots community organization in central ohio that works towards the liberation of black queer, trans, and intersex people from all walks of life through direct action, community organizing, and education on our issues, and creating spaces to uplift our voices.” Based in columbus, the col- lective grew from mobilization efforts to free the “Black Pride Four” or “#BlackPride4.” during the Stonewall columbus Pride parade in 2017, a group of black trans and queer protestors and their allies blocked the parade to demand seven minutes of si- lence in protest of the acquittal of the police officer charged with killing Philando castile. Shortly after stepping out into the street, protesters were shoved with bikes, maced, and pushed to the ground. although the group included both black and non-black people, only black people were arrested, namely ashley Brax- ton, wriply Bennet, Kendall denton, and deandre Miles. video of the scene shows white onlookers encouraging the police to take action against the protesters. the #BlackPride4 faced several charges, and the chair of Stonewall columbus testified against the activists. Following the arrests, Bqic called for a boycott of Stonewall columbus Pride and have now chosen to organize their own Pride event, columbus community Pride (ccP), which cen- ters black and brown communities as a way to bring Pride “back to our roots.” Bqic rejects corporate sponsorships and police presence at ccP. at their inaugural event in June 2018, Miss Major griffin-gracy, Stonewall rebellion veteran and trans ac- tivist, was the keynote speaker. as mentioned above, a second organiza- tion that took action during the 2017 Pride season is nJnP, based in washington, d.c. according to their mission statement, “we exist to end the lgBt movement’s com- plicity with systems of oppression that fur- ther marginalize queer and trans individuals. our members are Black, Brown, queer, trans, gender nonconforming, bisexual, in- digenous, two-spirit, formerly incarcerated, disabled, white al- lies and together we recognize that there can be no pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.” nJnP got noticed when they targeted floats by wells Fargo, police, and military contractors with direct action during the 2017 capital Pride pa- rade. But their efforts do not end with challenging the main- stream Pride parade in their city. in keeping with their intersectional politics, they work to support the multiply mar- ginalized in their community. By creating what they call the May–June 2019 23 Over time, the marches have turned into parades. Radical political critiques have been rendered invisible through an æsthetic of celebration.