Black Lives Matter Activists Protest Gay Pride Celebrations Around The Country

Published June 26, 2017

Demonstrators nationwide took to the streets with the message that Pride has marginalized people of color.

Pride Protests Black Lives Matter

No Justice No Pride Facebook

All across the country, hundreds of thousands of people spent Sunday dancing, parading, and partying in glitter-filled, rainbow-covered celebrations of LGBT pride.

But in such a tense and divisive political landscape, not everyone was in a festive mood.

Activists involved with the Black Lives Matter and No Justice No Pride movements protested the annual commemoration of the Gay Rights Movement this year, arguing that the LGBT community has not made enough of an effort to be inclusive toward people of color and that police involvement in the festivities made it an unsafe environment for minorities.

Some marches were delayed for hours as protestors formed human barricades, setting up memorials for black victims and requesting moments of silence. Many of these demonstrators were removed by police so that the parades could continue.

New York’s branch of Black Lives Matter released an open letter to PRIDE organizers, the Gay Officers Action League-NY (GOAL-NY) and the New York Police Department explaining their decision not to participate in Pride this year.

In it, they requested “the removal of uniformed police and PRIDE-detailed vehicles from the NYC Pride parade. As a human rights organization, GOAL-NY should be addressing the issues of local public safety issues within the NYPD Black and Brown communities across all precincts in NYC especially among those who identify as LGBTIQ, starting with supporting the Right to Know Act.”

They also wanted the events to focus more on queer and transgender black communities in a movement that has often been criticized for being centered around gay white men.

“There’s a broad concern among LGBTQ folks, especially people of color, that this movement that claims victory around marriage equality has very much left behind those of us who still experience marginalization,” No Justice No Pride organizer Angela Peoples told CNN.

“We can no longer support spaces where a force that can kill us, with impunity, is allowed to patrol a day of celebration,” the letter went on. “We are here for Pride, but not like this.”

These resistance groups also took issue with some of Pride’s corporate sponsors who have political leanings or investments (like in the Dakota Access Pipeline and privatized prisons) that they believe are discriminatory.

Many Pride participants were respectful of the protests, cheering them on and participating in their requests for seven minutes of silence. Others, however, felt that the disruptive groups were unfairly targeting an ally, rather than the enemy.

By “shouting down Capital Pride’s corporate sponsors and decrying the presence of law enforcement while preventing a parade of more than 2,000 drag queens, queer dance troupes, lesbian musicians and LGBT organizations of all political stripes from celebrating their right to exist,” Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory T. Angelo wrote, the protestors were “overshadowing thousands of celebrants who quite literally put their lives on the line fighting for a world where the retailers of mainstream America could proudly fly the rainbow flag.”

Angelo’s opinion does not appear to be in line with most representatives of the PRIDE community.

NYC PRIDE spokesperson James Fallarino said that they chose to authorize arrests after allowing the demonstrators to protest for ten minutes.

“There were some 40,000 marchers behind them who needed to have their message (heard) as well,” Fallarino said. “We believe strongly that it’s a free speech event. That has worked on both ends of the spectrum. We have always held the line that any group interested in our march can participate.”

PRIDE’s very origins are based in fighting police brutality, since it began after New York’s LGBT community rebelled against law enforcement during 1969’s Stonewall Riots.

“If you truly honor the history of Pride as well as the crisis we’re in, then you will recognize the need for disruption to bring attention to issues of marginalized people,” Peoples said. “This is not a one-off movement.”

Next, read about a revealing poll on how white people feel about Black Lives Matter. Then, learn about police officer who instructed drivers on how to run over Black Lives Matter marchers.

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John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.