As Pride Month gets underway, the LGBQT+ community mobilizes against racism

Anna Sergeeva/iStockBy TONY MORRISON, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — In a largely unprecedented move during an extraordinary time in our nation’s history, more than 100 LGBQT+ organizations have united in solidarity to combat racial violence and injustice as Pride Month gets under way.

Calling out history, that it was LGBQT+ individuals of color who essentially sparked the gay liberation movement in the 1960s, leaders from many of America’s most prominent LGBTQ+ and civil rights groups banned together to say, “We understand what it means to rise up and push back against a culture that tells us we are less than, that our lives don’t matter.”

Amid what is typically a time to celebrate the accomplishments and progress of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, queer, trans and more in our country, the community has fully mobilized to support the real-time efforts of the Black Lives Matter movement and to amplify the voices of protestors marching after the death of George Floyd.

While condemning racism, racial violence and police brutality, “The LGBTQ community knows about the work of resisting police brutality and violence,” the open letter reads.

Sarah Kate Ellis, president of LGBTQ+ advocacy group GLAAD, told GMA, “It is all of our responsibility to speak out publicly against racism, systemic injustice, and police brutality, and to elevate voices and amplify stories of people of color, especially with the LGBTQ community.”

“We know that social change is often built on the pain and outrage of moments like the ones we are seeing in America today,” she said. “It is important to remember that the revolutionary riots at Stonewall in 1969 were spearheaded by many LGBTQ people of color, and that none of the progress made for the acceptance and equality of LGBTQ people over the past 51 years would be possible if not for the action and courage of those protestors,” Ellis added.

Ellis went on to tell GMA how this Pride Month will undoubtedly be completely different: “We’ll be centering and lifting up the voices of queer people of color, whose struggles are shared by the entire LGBTQ community. There can be no pride if it is not intersectional. We are, Together in Pride.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), who coordinated the open letter, echoed GLAAD and told GMA, “Pride Month reminds us of our roots in struggle.”

“We honor the uprisings against police brutality at Stonewall and elsewhere,” said HRC president Alphonso David. “And we celebrate the fact that today many more of us may live as our true selves in the open.”

“This year, as righteous protesters march the streets across America to affirm that black lives matter, the LGBTQ community joins with them in combating racism,” David said.

On the matter of LGBTQ+ youth of color affected with events of current day, Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of The Trevor Project, calls out America’s young people as particularly vulnerable during this time of social and racial unrest. “We know from our research that black LGBTQ youth experience rates of depressed mood and suicidality similar to all LGBTQ youth however, despite having similar rates of mental health disparities, black LGBTQ youth are significantly less likely to receive professional care,” Paley told GMA.

As the head of America’s leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ+ youth, Paley aims to advocate for LGBQT+ youth that they are not alone and told GMA that crisis counselors are available for LGBTQ+ youth and LGBQT+ youth of color during this time. “Trained and always available to support the unique needs of black LGBTQ young people, 24/7 and for free,” Paley said.

Read the full letter:

LGBTQ Organizations Unite to Combat Racial Violence

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Those words, written over 30 years ago by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, remind us that indifference can never bridge the divide of hate. And, today, they should serve as a call to action to all of us, and to the Movement for LGBTQ equality.

This spring has been a stark and stinging reminder that racism, and its strategic objective, white supremacy, is as defining a characteristic of the American experience as those ideals upon which we claim to hold our democracy — justice, equality, liberty.

We listened to the haunting pleas of George Floyd for the most basic of human needs — simply, breath — as a Minneapolis police officer kneeled with cruel indifference on his neck. We felt the pain of Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend as he called 9-1-1 after plainclothes Louisville police kicked down the door of their home and shot her eight times as she slept in her bed. We watched the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery by white vigilantes in Brunswick, GA, aware that they evaded the consequence of their actions until the video surfaced and sparked national outrage. We saw the weaponizing of race by a white woman who pantomimed fear in calling the police on Christian Cooper, a Black gay man bird-watching in Central Park. We have heard and read about the killings of transgender people — Black transgender women in particular — with such regularity, it is no exaggeration to describe it as a epidemic of violence. This year alone, we have lost at least 12 members of our community: Dustin Parker, Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, Yampi Méndez Arocho, Monika Diamond, Lexi, Johanna Metzger, Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, Layla Pelaez Sánchez, Penélope Díaz Ramírez, Nina Pop, Helle Jae O’Regan, and Tony McDade. All of these incidents are stark reminders of why we must speak out when hate, violence, and systemic racism claim — too often with impunity — Black Lives.

The LGBTQ Movement’s work has earned significant victories in expanding the civil rights of LGBTQ people. But what good are civil rights without the freedom to enjoy them?

Many of our organizations have made progress in adopting intersectionality as a core value and have committed to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. But this moment requires that we go further — that we make explicit commitments to embrace anti-racism and end white supremacy, not as necessary corollaries to our mission, but as integral to the objective of full equality for LGBTQ people.

We, the undersigned, recognize we cannot remain neutral, nor will awareness substitute for action. The LGBTQ community knows about the work of resisting police brutality and violence. We celebrate June as Pride Month, because it commemorates, in part, our resisting police harassment and brutality at Stonewall in New York City, and earlier in California, when such violence was common and expected. We remember it as a breakthrough moment when we refused to accept humiliation and fear as the price of living fully, freely, and authentically.

We understand what it means to rise up and push back against a culture that tells us we are less than, that our lives don’t matter. Today, we join together again to say #BlackLivesMatter and commit ourselves to the action those words require.

Affirmations, Dave Garcia, Executive Director

AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Aisha N. Davis, Director of Policy

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director

Arkansas Transgender Equity Collaborative, Tonya Estell, Board of Directors

BAGLY, Inc. (Boston Alliance of LGBTQ Youth), Grace Sterling Stowell, Executive Director

Basic Rights Oregon, Nancy Haque, Executive Director

Bi Women Quarterly, Robyn Ochs, Editor

Campaign for Southern Equality, Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director

Campus Pride, Shane Windmeyer, Executive Director

Cathedral Of Hope UCC, Rev. Dr. Neil G Thomas, Senior Pastor

Center on Halsted, Modesto Valle, CEO

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, Denise Spivak, CEO

Community Education Group, A. Toni Young, Executive Director

Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, Sharon Kleinbaum, Senior Rabbi

Curve Magazine, Merryn Johns, Editor-in-Chief

Equality Arizona, Michael Soto, Executive Director

Equality California, Rick Chavez Zbur, Executive Director

Equality Delaware, Mark Purpura and Lisa Goodman, Board Chairs

Equality Federation, Rebecca Isaacs, Executive Director

Equality Florida, Nadine Smith, Executive Director

Equality Illinois, Brian Johnson, CEO

Equality New Mexico, Adrian N. Carver, Executive Director

Equality New York, Amanda Babine, Executive Director

Equality North Carolina, Kendra R Johnson, Executive Director

Equality Ohio, Alana Jochum, Executive Director

Equality Texas, Ricardo Martinez, CEO

Equality Virginia, Vee Lamneck, Executive Director

Fair Wisconsin, Megin McDonell, Executive Director

Fairness Campaign, Tamara Russell, Board Member

Family Equality, Denise Brogan-Kator, Chief Policy Officer

Freedom for All Americans, Kasey Suffredini, CEO & National Campaign Director

Freedom Oklahoma, Allie Shinn, Executive Director

FreeState Justice, Mark Procopio, Executive Director

Garden State Equality, Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director

Gay City: Seattle’s LGBTQ Center, Fred Swanson, Executive Director

Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), Kelsey Louie, CEO

Gender Rights Maryland, Sharon Brackett, Board Chair

Gender Spectrum, Joel Baum, Senior Director

Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network (GSA Network), Geoffrey Winder & Ginna Brelsford, Co-Executive Directors

Georgia Equality, Jeff Graham, Executive Director

GLAAD, Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO

GLBT Alliance of Santa Cruz, Gloria Nieto, Board Member

GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Janson Wu, Executive Director

GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality, Hector Vargas, Executive Director

GLSEN, Eliza Byard, Executive Director

GSAFE, Brian Juchems, Co-Director

Human Rights Campaign, Alphonso David, President

Immigration Equality, Aaron C. Morris, Executive Director

Ingersoll Gender Center, Karter Booher, Executive Director

Lambda Legal, Kevin Jennings, CEO

Lesbians of Color Symposium Collective, Inc., Shaunya Thomas, Co – Founder / President

LGBT Community Center of the Desert, Mike Thompson, CEO

LGBT Life Center, Stacie Walls, CEO

LGBTQ Center OC, Peg Corley, Executive Director

LGBTQ Victory Fund & LGBTQ Victory Institute, Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO

Louisiana Trans Advocates, Peyton Rose Michelle, Director of Operations

Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, Tre’Andre Valentine, Executive Director

MassEquality, Tanya V. Neslusan, Executive Director

Matthew Shepard Foundation, Jason Marsden, Executive Vice President

Movement Advancement Project, Ineke Mushovic, Executive Director

National Black Justice Coalition, David Johns, Executive Director

National Center for Lesbian Rights, Imani Rupert-Gordon, Executive Director

National Center for Transgender Equality, Mara Keisling, Executive Director

National Equality Action Team (NEAT), Brian Silva, Founder & Executive Director

National LGBTQ Task Force, Rea Carey, Executive Director

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), Glenn D. Magpantay, Executive Director

New York City Anti-Violence Project, Beverly Tillery, Executive Director

NMAC, Paul Kawata, Executive Director

Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, Joe Hawkins, CEO

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, Erin Uritus, CEO

One Colorado, Daniel Ramos, Executive Director

One Iowa, Courtney Reyes, Executive Director

One Orlando Alliance, Jennifer Foster, Executive Director

Our Family Coalition, Sam Ames, Interim Executive Director

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, Erin Uritus, CEO

OutFront Minnesota, Monica Meyer, Executive Director

OutNebraska, Abbi Swatsworth, Executive Director

Pacific Center for Human Growth, Michelle Gonzalez, Executive Director

PFLAG National, Brian K. Bond, Executive Director

PRC, Brett Andrews, CEO

Pride at Work, Jerame Davis, Executive Director

PROMO, Stephen Eisele, Executive Director

Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa County, Kiku Johnson, Executive Director

Resource Center, Cece Cox, CEO

Sacramento LGBT Community Center, David Heitstuman, CEO

San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Joe Hollendoner, CEO

San Francisco Community Health Center, Lance Toma, CEO

SF LGBT Center, Rebecca Rolfe, Executive Director

SAGE, Michael Adams, CEO

San Diego LGBT Community Center, Cara Dessert, CEO

Sero Project, Sean Strub, Executive Director

Silver State Equality, André C. Wade, State Director

Tennessee Equality Project, Chris Sanders, Executive Director

The Diversity Center, Sharon E Papo, Executive Director

The Gala Pride and Diversity Center, Michelle Call, Executive Director

The Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, Glennda Testone, Executive Director

The LGBTQ Center, Long Beach, Porter Gilberg, Executive Director

The LGBTQ Center, NYC, Reg Calcagno, Senior Director of Government Affairs

The Pride Center of Maryland, Mimi Demissew, Executive Director

The Source LGBT+ Center, Brian Poth, Executive Director

The Trevor Project, Amit Paley, CEO

Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT), Emmett Schelling, Executive Director

Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), Andy Marra, Executive Director

TransOhio, James Knapp, Chair & Executive Director

Truth Wins Out, Wayne Besen, Executive Director

Uptown Gay & Lesbian Alliance (UGLA), Carl Matthes, President

Woodhull Freedom Foundation, Ricci Levy, President & CEO

Wyoming Equality, Sara Burlingame, Executive Director

If you or someone you know is an LGBQT+ American that has experienced discrimination you can contact the Human Right Campaign to share your story.

If you or someone you know are in crisis or needs support, The Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat www.TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678678.

If you are someone you know is looking for a place to connect during Pride amid social distancing and stay-at-home orders, visit GLAAD’s 2020 Pride Guide for ways to be connected with the LGBTQ+ communities across the country.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.