Step Up for the Black Queer Community this Pride Month
And every month.
And every month.
Text: Dante Silva
Pride has become an altogether unique cultural phenomenon. There’s the barrage of social media stories, mostly looking to accrue social capital; the excessive assortment of kaleidoscope-esque products, features of corporate co-optation; the vague love is love statements from public figures, which seem to consistently lack any tangible meaning. And then there’s the noticeable absence of any form of racial consciousness, no recognition of complicity in anti-Blackness (and other harmful systems).
To be certain, pride takes on many more connotations: a bold expression of identity, a subversion of norms, a means of fostering community amongst those marginalized due to non-normative gendered and/or sexual practices. The word has been uttered as a cry against injustice, an ode to former lives lost, a self-assured promise heading forward (even if printed in pastel graphics).
Yet, for the non-Black queer community, pride becomes a reminder. Who is left out in conversations surrounding ‘inclusivity’? Which communities are fighting for elusive ‘acceptance’, while others fight for survival? In what ways does queerness act as an alibi for anti-Blackness?
For it is precisely in denying accountability, or in assuming a certain exceptionalism in violent relations towards others, that harm is perpetuated.
Now, as has always been the case, pride must become a more active iteration of itself—one committed towards addressing the nuance of the oppression it claims to mobilize against. Perhaps, current action necessitates a return to the movement’s more radical origins. Stonewall was not a sponsored brunch event. Nor a virtue signaling mechanism employed within an influencer’s caption. Most definitely not an instagram chain. Stonewall was a series of riots led by Marsha P. Johnson and Storme DeLarverie, Black queer women.
And yet! Whatever the value of pride in its current form, the modern movement feels oddly empty, devoid of the meaningful aims of years past. More importantly, it lacks Nigel, Tony, Layleen, Monika, Nina, and others.
This month, just as any other, does not indicate an interruption of the Black Lives Matter movement, nor are the two mutually exclusive. Rather, it beckons us forward, a collective call to action, a reminder to amplify the voices of those too often spoken for/over.
Take pride in your internalized reflection, your self-education (don't rely on Black queer folks to do the work for you), your awareness of the space you're taking up. Take pride in donations to the Black and Pink Org, a bail fund for Black queer individuals with the aim of prison abolition. Take pride in acting without a need for self-gratification. Revel in the discomfort that comes with unlearning, and ultimately remember these actions are the bare minimum.
Check out the discussion below between Drag Race stars Bob the Drag Queen and Peppermint. And, of course, happy Pride, from V to you.