Learn with Schwabe: Celebrating Pride by Remembering Its Roots as a Riot

Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt PC

Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt PC

As we celebrate Pride Month this year, and with the Black Lives Matter movement in the forefront of the current collective national consciousness, Schwabe urges all to remember that there would be no Pride without intersectionality and most importantly without Black and Latinx women.

The first Pride began as a riot at the Stonewall Inn in New York in 1969. Patrons tired of police harassment and shakedowns of their neighborhood gay bar fought back against police. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera led the resistance over three nights of protest, resisting arrest and fighting back to reclaim their neighborhood gay bar, their safe space, and their civil rights. Pride was gifted to us by drag queens, trans women of color, and revolutionary spirit. Each year, we celebrate the anniversary of this riot and the movement it birthed. This year, we vow to better honor our intersectionality with, and debt to, the Black community by protesting, advocating, educating ourselves and others, and most importantly exercising our voting rights.

This month and this day, June 26, contain many other anniversaries. Today marks the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision of Obergefell v. Hodges, which at long last legalized same-sex marriage in the United States. It is also the seventh anniversary of United States v. Windsor, which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act denying federal recognition to same-sex marriages. Today is the seventeenth anniversary of Lawrence v. Texas, which held that U.S. laws prohibiting private same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults are unconstitutional. June also marks the anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, which in 1967 struck down laws banning interracial marriages. The precedent of Loving was key to the decision in Obergefell.

Earlier this month, in Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court gave us a new anniversary to celebrate in June. The highest Court in this country held that Title VII protects workers from being discriminated against for being gay or transgender. No longer can workers in 22 states get legally married to their same-sex spouse on a Tuesday and fired the next day for putting the wedding photo on their work desk. Each of these decisions is monumental, and each is amplified by virtue of being decided during Pride Month.

This Pride Month also celebrates a first, as Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres make history as the first out Black Gay man and first African-Latinx Gay man to likely serve in the U.S. Congress. Both have insurmountable leads after this Tuesday’s New York primaries.

While these decisions are joyful, affirming, and important, our work is unfinished. In the words of Marsha P. Johnson, “You never completely have your rights, one person, until you all have your rights.” No federal law prevents housing discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people. Thirty states still allow the damaging and hurtful practice of “conversion therapy.” Thirty-seven states have not banned insurance exclusions for transgender health care. In the midst of Pride Month, the Trump Administration is trying to strip the anti-discrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act from LGBTQIA+ people. Four states have no laws about hate crimes. Fifteen more have hate crime laws that fail to address gender identity or sexual orientation. LGBTQIA+ youth remain rejected by their families and comprise over 40% of homeless teens, the number for LGBTQIA+  youth of color is even higher.

Today in America, trans folx—and particularly trans women of color—still face disproportionate violence at the hands of racists and homophobes. We remember and honor this year’s victims: Riah Milton, Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, Tony McDade, Helle Jae O’Regan, Nina Pop, Penelope Díaz Ramírez, Layla Pelaez Sánchez, Selena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, Johanna Metzger, Lexi, Monika Diamond, Yampi Méndez Arocho, Neulisa Alexa Luciano Ruiz, Tete Gulley, Selena Reyes-Hernandez, and Dustin Parker.

As protestors have been heard chanting across the nation, silence is violence. Schwabe stands in solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community—each and every member. Black Lives Matter. Black Trans Lives Matter.

Let this Pride Month be your call to action.

To learn more about the history of Pride Month and the movement to end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, please visit:

  1. The Human Rights Campaign
  2. Lambda Legal
  3. The Trevor Project (resource on LGBTQIA+ homeless youth)
  4. The Marsha P. Johnson Institute

For those with a historical interest in the LGBTQIA+ Civil Rights Movement, see:

The Stonewall Reader, edited by New York Public Library (2019)

The Deviant’s War: The United States v. the Homosexual, by Eric Cervini (2020)

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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