Its February, and in honour of it being Black History Month, we decided to include a bit of LGBTQ + Black History in this month’s article.
Unfortunately, there is still today simply not enough exposure and representation for the black LGBTQ+ community. To change this in a small way, we wanted to shine some light on a very important activists that go unrecognized but undoubtedly both changed and made history. Our first important figure is Marsha P. Johnson, an American gay liberation activist (Trans) . Known as an outspoken advocate for gay rights, Johnson was one of the central figures in the Stonewall uprising in New York City back in 1969, the famous bar raid that became a watershed moment in gay history, where people like Marsha fought back and took a stand. By June 1970, Marsha and many other like-minded members of the community marched for equality, recognition and acceptance. The march started that year became an annual tradition, and still exists today. Every June, the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) organization consisting of black, queer and trans people raising awareness for Gay rights and to push for equality in mainstream society.Until the early 1990’s, the parade was an activist march. As time moved forward, huge shifts in societal attitudes began to occur. A growing wave of support came to with what was now being called annually “The Pride Parade.” As noted by those who have seen the evolution of the march, in time the event grew, and the Pride Parade, to them, became corporate, commercialized, and an almost blatant commodification. Any popular societal event is doomed to be preyed on by corporations. However, the history and roots of the annual march will always be found in social activism.It is very important, as ideologies and attitudes are ever-shifting, to honestly know where one came from as a member of a community, and how LGBTQ+ got to where it is today. So many brave people like Marsha Johnson stood up against the intolerance, and personally risked so much so that so that the LGBTQ + community could be better accepted, and given the same equal rights guaranteed to all people.
We at “LGBTQ+ in the City” reached out to many different local organizations to give our loyal readers a Next Step in this LGBTQ history lesson. We heard back from many organizations, and what follows is some information we gathered from the Niagara Region Anti-Racism Association: “History isn’t something you look back at and say it was inevitable.” – Life and Times of Marsha P Johnson.
Thank you to The Niagara Region Anti Racism Association Facebook group for allowing me to speak with you and for giving me the opportunity to learn about your history!