The first pride was a riot. As this sharp piece of history from Inverse puts it: “On June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a meeting place for LGBTQ+ New Yorkers. When they demanded to do sex verification checks on trans women, a spontaneous protest broke out, and at the forefront of those protests were trans women of color like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Pride itself owes its very existence to a riot, and it took radical acts of change to just start the conversation about LGBTQ+ issues in America, a conversation that continues to this day.”
The year is now 2020, and we are witnessing yet another series of uprisings in the fight for civil rights. What does it mean to be proud during these times, when it feels like we are in the midst of progress coupled with history woefully repeating itself?
For Pride Month, we spoke with five Audiomack artists—the legendary Big Freedia of New Orleans, New York’s Young M.A, Minneapolis’ Dua Saleh, Atlanta’s Kodie Shane, and London's Zilo—to find out what, exactly, pride means in 2020.
Listen to our Black Pride playlist below, or here.
“We are now more focused than ever on equality and justice, so at this time, being proud to me means that we don't just go back to our lives after this month. We need to keep speaking up about the issues of racial and gender inequality, LGBT rights, and police reform!”
“Pride means having confidence in yourself. Loving you; knowing you; being you. Not allowing anyone’s perceptions, opinions or judgements alternate how you maneuver. Pride is loving oneself. Loving you first. Not to be selfish with it, but at the same time you have to love you, in order to love others. That’s what pride means to me.”
“Pride means learning trans history around resistance uprisings and movement building. Many people already know that Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera ignited the Stonewall riots. This was directly related to police brutality and white institutional violence harming Black and Brown Trans/Queer folks in NY. The first pride parade happened directly after this uprising. Many people forget to mention that these two trans women founded STAR in 1970. They wanted to provide shelter and food for homeless trans and queer youth. They were able to give back to their community directly. That’s what gives me pride in the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities.”
“Pride means everything to me! It’s the reason I’m comfortable in my skin. I know there are people all over the world who have felt a fear or embarrassment about who they are and it’s comforting to know we are not alone! It makes me happy and proud to know that my people, my tribe, my race fought for us to be proud of who we are. Being proud of who I am and what I believe in is how I was raised, it was instilled in me at a very young age, I will always be proud and never let anyone tear me down! I’ll always be proud to be Queer, Female and Black!! Nothing can change that.”
“To me, being proud is uncovering and exploring every inch of who you are; from the things you love, to the things that you may not like but you have the power to change, the hidden quirks and intricate little details about yourself—discovering all of the unique things that make you, you and then embracing the absolute fuck out of all of it.”
By Donna-Claire Chesman for DJBooth. Photos by Brad Hebert (Big Freedia), Quil Lemons (Young M.A), Grand Spanier (Dua Saleh), Cam Kirk (Kodie Shane), and Hypemari (Zilo).