To Allies of the LGBTQ Community,
As we acknowledge LGBTQ history and the Pulse shooting last year, we must reflect on our commitment to bettering LGBTQ lives and actively show our solidarity for equality. We must evaluate the current climate during this time of remembrance and reflection. Last week, we witnessed marginalized queer and trans people of color block the DC Capital Pride parade, after which we would be remiss if we didn’t ask ourselves, who is Pride serving and how can we be more inclusive? As allies, it is our responsibility to ensure all LGBTQ individuals are given a safe space in which they are free to exist and be themselves, especially during Pride. As we take the tragedy that happened at Pulse and the importance of the #NoJusticeNoPeace rally into consideration, we bear witness to an outcry for all LGBTQ people to have safe, inclusive spaces. In respect to this call to action, EROC wants to stress the importance of inclusiveness of these disenfranchised communities. Bisexual, transgender, gender non-conforming, and asexual individuals are often erased and forced into the margins within the LGBTQ community. These actions contribute to real violence and threats to the community’s safety, and result in events such as at Pulse or the Stonewall Inn. During this year’s Pride it is important that we recognize the unique challenges these marginalized communities face, and offer representation, safe havens, resources, and care specific to their particular needs as service providers, Pride-goers, and organizers.
The needs of marginalized groups such as the transgender community are often diminished, or erased, and often go unaddressed. The community is particularly vulnerable because trans people, especially transgender women of color, experience exceptionally high rates of discrimination and violence. In fact, trans women of color make up one of the most vulnerable populations, with a life expectancy of just 35 years. Even considering the mystery behind Marsha P. Johnson’s death and the murder of the tenth transgender person of color this year,it appears that some progress has been made since Stonewall in 1969. However, we still have so much further to go. Community organizers should consider creating events and programs specifically to support and welcome this community. Pride should be a safe space for all LGBTQ individuals, but recent sponsorship of the very law enforcement that caused the Stonewall Riots are given more space than the marginalized LGBTQ youth who have historically led this movement.
Additionally, bisexual people’s experiences are consistently erased from LGBTQ-specific narratives, events, and resources as well. This is largely due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of sexual fluidity, resulting in less inclusion to meet the particular needs of these communities. That being said, Pride is one of the best months to learn from the outpour of information that floods the internet. Use the month to learn about different LGBTQ experiences so that we can seek justice and equality for everyone. Seek out opportunities — not just during Pride Month, but throughout the year — to include marginalized communities and create inclusionary events and programs. Whether in education or in campus safety we must address the specific needs of everyone within the LGBTQ community — centering the most disenfranchised.
So take this energy and motivation from Pride Month into other areas in your life to push for inclusiveness and equality. Use your voice and vote to prevent physical and legislative targeted attacks against the LGBTQ community. Further, learn from LGBTQ folks and organizations. This Pride, EROC’s mission is to educate students of their rights and provide information for the survivors who often fall between the cracks. As we have learned from previous Pride Month blogs about LGBTQ history and the barriers survivors face in reporting and receiving assistance, it’s important to include and uplift these communities in our advocacy work.
Toronto Pride last year set a prime example of solidarity and how to take meaningful steps towards collaboration with marginalized groups. By meeting with local queer Black Lives Matter activists and listening to their demands, Toronto learned how to create a safe Pride for everyone. It is our responsibility and duty as advocates for all survivors of sexual violence to continue progressing in the same fashion.
CHARDONNAY MADKINS (pronouns: she/her/hers)is a womanist and activist serving the Los Angeles area. She received her Bachelor's of Arts degree in Psychology and Urban & Environmental Policy from Occidental College. As one of the few black women leaders on Occidental's campus, Chardonnay Madkins played a prominent role in the institution's Black Student Alliance and also co-founded the Oxy Sexual Assault Coalition, where she shed light on issues involving survivors of color and mobilized students and faculty to demand administrators appropriately handle sexual assault cases. She dedicates her time advocating specifically for Black survivors and changing policies around sexual assault. She maintains a passion for knowledge and aspires to continue her education of human rights and womanist politics in order to give voice to the voiceless.
You can reach Chardonnay at firstname.lastname@example.org