On June 28, 1969, in the early morning hours in Greenwich Village, New York, the police raided a dive bar hoping to hassle and possibly get pay offs from partrons of one of the few safe havens for the gay and lesbian community. They had done this many times in the past, arrested the same people on dozens of occasions but this night was different. This night, they fought back. Throwing rocks, shoes and spare change back at the cops in defiance, they sparked what would be a worldwide revolution.
It’s hard to imagine a world where you could be arrested for ‘solicitation of homosexual acts’ or for not wearing at least three articles of ‘gender-appropriate clothing’ but that’s how it was, even in the liberal bastion of New York city. This was a place where gay people would have their names and addresses published in the newspaper for a journalistic scarlet letter to shame them and put them in a position where they could lose their jobs, their families, their lives.
The next year, on the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, people all over the country remembered and held the ‘Christopher street liberation march’. It grew and grew into what we now know as ‘Pride’.
As a trans woman, pride is time of mixed feelings. On one hand, I love seeing people living their lives without fear. On the other, I feel like we forget how what began as a riot has turned into a commercial event where stores sell rainbow tee shirts, then donate to anti-choice, anti-lgbt politicians.
It’s a reminder that the fight isn’t over; far from it. The people who hate us are also getting more bold and branching out into hate and intolerance of immigrants, people of color and women exercising their right to choose. I love working with Abortion Access Front and taking our enemies on, making my queer ancestors proud. That’s a sense of pride that can’t be taken away. And if anyone tries, I have rocks, spare change and my size 11s ready to go.