Happy Black Pride and Liberation

By NAACP LGBTQ+ Rights Committee LGBTQ+ Rights Committee

Happy Pride Month! Did you know that the first Pride was a riot started by queer and trans people of color, or QTPOC? Like the Black, transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson.

Many people don’t know that because Pride has turned into a weekend of rainbows, parades and corporate alcohol sponsorships. Pride has also centered, like many things in America, the White male experience.

On June 28, 1969, Marsha Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, a Puerto Rican transgender woman that she befriended when she first came to New York City, went out to the Stonewall Inn. Stonewall Inn was a popular bar for the LGBTQ+ community but that was a secret, as homosexuality was classified as a mental illness until 1973 by the American Psychological Association. Sodomy was classified as a crime until the Supreme Court struck it down in Lawrence vs. Texas on June 26, 2003.

Police raids against bars frequented by the LGBTQ+ Community were common and according to Johnson, “the place was already on fire, and there was a raid already. The riots had already started.”

Multiple events that night are attributed to the riots such as the arrest of Stormé DeLarverie, a biracial butch lesbian and drag king, that kept resisting arrest while rallying the bar patrons. As well as Johnson throwing the “Shot Glass Heard Around the World,” styled after the infamous bullet that started the American Revolution. According to those accounts, Johnson, frustrated by the constant raids, downed her shot of alcohol, threw it at a nearby mirror and yelled at the officers, “I GOT MY CIVIL RIGHTS!” then led bar patrons to fight back.

Johnson was on the front lines of what became the Stonewall Riots. It was the first time that the LGBTQ+ Community literally fought back against discrimination. The riots were followed by protests and community organizing. Every year after, it would be commemorated by marches against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. The music and dancing naturally followed in later years.

While Pride Month is a bold statement to the World saying, “This is me, accept me!” for many QTPOC it is an even bolder statement saying, “I deserve to exist in the same spaces that you do.” That is why the Spokane Branch of the NAACP formed the LGBTQ+ Committee. The fight that Marsha P. Johnson started must continue!

According to the Human Rights Campaign, “at least 32 transgender and gender-expansive people have been tragically and inhumanely taken through violent means, including through gun and interpersonal violence in 2023.” The US Trans Survey (2022) named Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia as the ten top States from which respondents moved because of state laws targeting transgender people for unequal treatment. Many of these States have large Black, Indigenous and People of Color populations with almost 20% of Alabama alone self-reporting as non-White according to the 2020 Census, and Texas becoming a Majority-Minority State in that same census with 57.5% of Texans self-reporting as non-White.

So this Pride, while you are out celebrating the rights won by the LGBTQ+ Community, remember the Shot Glass Heard Around the World. Remember our Queer and Trans Siblings of Color. Remember Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Stormé DeLarverie, and consider joining the LGBTQ+ Committee of the Spokane NAACP as we continue the fight that they started and celebrate ALL LOVE in our communities.