Black Lives Matter – Why We March

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NYC Gay Pride 1978 – post-march rally in Central Park

As we approach this year’s LGBTQ Pride commemoration on Sunday, the focus in most locations will be on supporting the Black community and opposing police brutality, two very important initiatives that have belatedly been embraced by a majority of people in the U.S., as well as many globally.

I’ve been thinking about the LGBTQ civil rights movement lately—where it came from and how it has evolved. What was once simply called the Gay Liberation Movement has grown more diverse over the decades as that largely gay and lesbian community expanded to include those with other sexual orientations and others who don’t fit within society’s rigid binary gender construct. In the process, we’ve expanded into an LGBTQ alliance that insists upon the full range of its civil rights.

The arc of progress in nominally achieving LGBTQ rights over the last half-century has been stunningly quick by any standard.

Brown Gay Students Association – NYC Gay Pride 1978

By comparison, the modern women’s civil rights movement is more than a century old, having first achieved the right to vote in the US in 1920. Still, an Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution guaranteeing equal legal rights regardless of gender has never been passed.

Similarly, for the Black Community, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark U.S. civil rights and labor law that outlawed discrimination based on a number of factors, including race. Yet, we’ve seen stark proof of the ineffectiveness of such legislation in insuring equal treatment according to skin color while observing the recent spate of police violence against Blacks.

The fact is that civil rights have not been allocated or enforced across any of the many minority groups they are meant to protect. The lack of equal treatment for some groups is an insult to all of us. Making equal rights conditional ( i.e., only applying to some and not all people) sets a dangerous precedent, tacitly fostering discrimination against anyone who does not fit into the societal norms of a particular time or era. We can see that happening in the US now with the divisive leadership of Donald Trump and his marginalization of LGBTQers, women, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, immigrants, people with disabilities, and other minorities.

NYC LGBT Pride 1978 – religious anti-gay demonstrators

The rights we fought so hard to earn (and are still struggling to secure) as LGBTQ people are the same rights that all minorities deserve. That is why it’s important that LGBTQers demonstrate in force, in whatever ways we can, in favor of Black Lives during this year’s Pride activities.

In fact, many Pride organizations across the US and some around the world have chosen to demonstrate solidarity with Black people by joining forces this year. For example, if you’ll be in NYC this Sunday, come to Foley Square (in the government district not far from City Hall) at 1 p.m. and be part of the Queer Liberation March for Black Lives and Against Police Brutality. While there, be sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing to stay safe, but let’s demonstrate our commitment to making the world a better place for Blacks and for all of us. The time is now and we must act to ensure justice is finally served equally to all people.

LGBT marchers in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral at NYC LGBT Pride in 1993