Every June I honor my various friends and family members who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ). For decades, members of the LGBTQ community have been trailblazers in all facets of our lives and have fought to expand civil rights and civil liberties for folks within and outside of the LGBTQ community.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, NY. The Stonewall Uprising began in the early hours of June 28, 1969 when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City. Six days of protests (and what some would call riots) ensued. There were violent clashes with police officers, bar patrons, and residents in the neighborhood. Police violently arrested bar patrons and employees of the Stonewall Inn. Because of these events, “The Stonewall Riots” served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and even around the world.
It should be noted that the role of African Americans in advancing the rights of LGBTQ Americans has been critical for the increased understanding of the brilliance that exists within the Black LGBTQ community.
Many of you may be familiar with civil rights organizer Bayard Rustin and his work with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in planning the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Some of you may be familiar with the literary works of James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, June Jordan, and Alice Walker. Others of you may appreciate the brilliant artistic dance expression of Alvin Ailey and Bill T. Jones. Or the intelligence and political savvy of Barbara Jordan and Angela Davis. Janet Mock and Laverne Cox have been vocal about the need to support and protect Black trans women in this current climate that has been quite dangerous and sometimes deadly for these women in society, both domestically and abroad.
Currently, we have LGBTQ leaders at the helm of organizations that are fighting for justice and equality for marginalized groups. Alphonso David leads the Human Rights Coalition and Rashad Robinson has put Color of Change on the map as the progressive conscience of the nation. Both organizations are carrying the baton of civil rights organizations who laid the foundation for this important work.
Many families have supported their loved ones as they walk in their truth and live their lives to the fullest and most inclusive way they know. It is my sincere hope that we can celebrate our friends and family this month and help uplift the work of the many LGBT scholars, artists, activists, and more who have contributed to our lives in minor and major ways.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC and also the What’s in It for Us podcast.