Rally and march for Black LGBTQ lives, remembers Stonewall anniversary, denounces police brutality

Rally+and+march+for+Black+LGBTQ+lives%2C+remembers+Stonewall+anniversary%2C+denounces+police+brutality

In honor of the 51st anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, Queer Pride 4 Black Life organized a pride event in Bixby Park to both celebrate Black gay, transgender and queer lives and denounce their killings at the hands of police on Sunday, June 28.

“Being Black and gay is not separate from just being Black,” Audrena Redmond of Black Lives Matter Long Beach told the crowd, “Being Black and trans is not separate from just being Black, because when the police come for you, when they come for us, they just see Black. They don’t care if you’re a woman or man or trans or gay or a lesbian or a dyke or a butch or whatever you call yourself. They don’t care.”

A photo of one of Stonewall’s leading activists, Marsha P. Johnson, was placed at the top of a memorial set up in Bixby Park to honor Black transgender individuals who have been murdered. Johnson’s body was found in the Hudson River in 1992 and police dismissed it as a suicide despite her community’s insistence that she had been murdered.

The uprising at the Stonewall Inn in New York City in 1969 was a response to the constant police harassment, violence and intimidation the LGBTQ community had been forced to endure. Stonewall is often credited as the beginning of the modern day LGBTQ+ rights movement, and was led by transgender women of color such as Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

“One thing that we need to know,” activist Fatima Malika Shabazz told the crowd, “especially when it comes to the LGBTQ fight, is that Stonewall wasn’t a god damn negotiation, it was a fight!”

Behind the memorial was a tree whose trunk was covered in signs bearing the names of Black transgender individuals who have been killed in recent years, including Tony McDade, who died in a police shooting on May 27, 2020.

Signs with the names of transgender people of color were hung on a tree in Bixby Park on Sunday, June 28. (Kristen Farrah Naeem | Signal Tribune )

Many of these names, including Tony McDade, Nina Pop, Monika Diamond and more were repeated out loud as libations were poured, a ritual that Black Lives Matter usually includes in its demonstrations.

“We pour libations in calling our ancestors– those that may have just transitioned, those that have transitioned [a long time ago]– to bring them into whatever space that we’re in, so that we are with the past, the present, and the future,” Kim Tabari of Black Lives Matter Long Beach told the crowd. “For today’s libation, we’re mostly going to call the names of Black trans folks that have passed because we really, really want to give them some special honoring today.”

Speakers at the rally repeatedly called for more public funds to be allocated to education, health and other community programs rather than police forces.

“When we say defund the police,” She La Baits of Black Lives Matter Long Beach said, “what we mean is take money away from the police department– divest from the police department– and invest in the community.”

After speeches by activists, spoken word performances were given by the poets Alesha Wise and Jaden Fields.

An avante garde fashion show followed, showcasing unique outfits and costumes as well as dancing by the models.

A model during the avante garde fashion performance at the end of the Monday, June 28 rally by Queer Pride 4 Black Life and Black Lives Matter Long Beach. (Kristen Farrah Naeem | Signal Tribune)

The majority of demonstrators then walked from Bixby Park to Broadway Boulevard where they continued to march towards Harvey Milk Promenade Park.

Those who did not want to or were unable to march were welcomed to stay in Bixby Park. Tents were set up within the park to provide resources, information, food, water, clothing and mutual aid to those in attendance.