The aerial shot took your breath away. “All Black Lives Matter” painted in huge rainbow letters across Hollywood Boulevard, “the street of dreams” that too often leaves LGBTQ dreams broken and tattered.
But on this day — Sunday, June 14 — the day that 50 years ago featured the first nervous but raucous Gay Liberation-lead Christopher Street West Pride parade — this day was electric with the spirit of unified protest against the ongoing horror and injustice of racism and wanton police brutality.
That “enough is enough” flicked switch for change has gripped people of heart, conscience and conviction since the 8 minute 46 second May 25 videotaped murder of handcuffed George Floyd by a white police officer arresting him for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill.
“I can’t breathe,” Floyd said as horrified witnesses called out to police casually standing by as the black man, beloved by his family, friends and neighbors, called out for his mother then stopped breathing.
Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for another two minutes, including a full minute after paramedics arrived at the scene, according to a New York Times analysis.
Floyd’s death followed the shocking fatal shooting of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor during a “no-knock” police raid on her Louisville, Kentucky house six weeks earlier; 10 weeks earlier 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, a jogger was tracked down by a white father and son and shot in Glynn County, Georgia.
One murder after another and another — and then, two days before the All Black Lives Matter march, Rayshard Brooks, 27, who had fallen asleep in a Wendy’s drive-thru, was fatally shot by Atlanta police after a long, mostly peaceful encounter during which he asked if he could just please walk to his nearby home.
After more than 400 years of explicit and implicit oppression with silent societal assent, a new generation living through the ugly racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic Trumpification of America has had enough. Finally, the confederacy is being toppled, demands for police reform are being heeded, and a new awakening is taking hold.
And on June 14, Black LGBTQ people — especially Black trans people — were finally included in the reckoning.
LGBTQ people of color have long been the victims of not only systemic racism and police brutality but also degrading humiliation, even in death, in the abject banality of evil oppression. The Human Rights Campaign has named at least 13 trans people, mostly trans women of color, who have been murdered just this year.
Stop. Take that in. 13 trans murders since January 1, 2020. That’s an epidemic on top of the coronavirus pandemic that is disproportionately impacting the lives of black and brown people in America.
But on this day, Sunday, June 14, mostly masked men, women and children of all ages, races, ethnicities and beliefs from the farthest regions of Los Angeles County celebrated Black LGBTQ people, waved Rainbow and Trans flags, marched in a new diverse coalition of the Rainbow spirit, convinced that a change is going to come.
And on this day, June 14, as 25,000 people and numerous dogs peacefully marched from Hollywood to West Hollywood, there was not a police officer in sight.
“I look around me and just keep crying. I am just so moved. I never in my life thought this could happen,” 37-year old Juliana from Inglewood told the Los Angeles Blade. “Our story is finally being heard and understood and people are coming together around justice and equality and in support of my community.”
In many ways, Juliana symbolizes the intersectionality of the LGBTQ community and the diversity of the rest of society.
“I am LGBT but first I am a black woman from a poor family,” she says. “I look around me and I keep crying. I keep thinking about my cousin who lives in a white neighborhood who still gets reported by her neighbors and followed home by the cops. And the stories my mom used to tell me about my great grandmother in Mississippi — she was born a slave and somehow made it to 101 years old. I think of George Floyd and Breana and the many thousands of unjust cop killings, lynchings, and I cry. I literally am gonna cry now — but because this is so damned beautiful.”
Something happened on this day, on Sunday, June 14, once reserved for the fun and flamboyant LGBTQ party called LA Pride. Things have changed. People have changed. Even public policy is changing.
But most importantly, as the LGBTQ community celebrates the shocking victory at the US Supreme Court on June 15, the thousands and thousands of blacks and whites who marched and interacted with LGBTQ people on that day in LGBTQ history, have had their hearts and minds changed and have come to believe – here on earth or viewed from above — that All Black Lives Matter.
Now comes the hard part — to make that change work and last. And that starts with taking the Census and voting in November. But now, as well, anyone who woke up to the ongoing systemic oppression has a role in making sure that LGBTQ coming out is no longer risky but celebrated as a contribution of individual authenticity enhancing the greater consciousness of humankind.
And that matters.