Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David has said that the LGBT+ community needs to put anti-racism at the heart of its agenda, in a powerful speech marking the start of Pride Month.
The LGBT+ activist spoke out as Pride Month began on June 1, overshadowed by both the COVID-19 pandemic and the continued unrest over the killing of unarmed Black man George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Alphonso David: ‘None of us will be free until all of us are free’
Pride started with protests when LGBTQ people, largely transgender women of color, confronted police brutality and discrimination for equality. As we celebrate #Pride Month, we must carry the work forward to affect change for all of us, not some of us. https://t.co/vdmVWKSTok pic.twitter.com/dNebxytAws
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) June 1, 2020
The HRC boss, who previously worked as a civil rights attorney and led the first legal challenge for equal marriage in New York, reflected: “Pride started with protest. LGBTQ people – led in large part by transgender women of colour – resisted police brutality and violence at flashpoints like Stonewall, the Black Cat, and Compton’s Cafeteria.
“We as a community refused to accept humiliation and fear as the price of living as our true selves. Our community understands 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.
“All these years later, Black people and the most marginalised across this nation are still facing brutality, are still facing injustice, are still facing indifference. Yes, we have won major victories in expanding civil rights for historically marginalised groups. But what good are civil rights without the freedom to enjoy them?
“This moment requires that we make explicit commitments and take action 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 know from the best legacies of our leaders then and now – the LGBTQ luminaries and the footsoldiers for justice – none of us will be free until all of us are free.
“So as we celebrate Pride Month, let us carry the work forward with greater intentionality to affect change for all of us, not some of us. Because while we may not be able to celebrate Pride in person this year, there is nothing to stop us from taking action.”
He added: “I want you to be proud. I want you to be proud at work, at school, and in your communities. I want you to be proud at the ballot box.
“I want you to be proud – and loud – in demanding full equality, racial justice, gender justice, and the true liberation of all people.
“I want you to be proud of all the change that you have helped achieve and all the beauty and possibility that our community holds.
“Because of you, I believe a better world is possible, and I know we will get there, together.”
More than 100 LGBT+ leaders affirm that Black Lives Matter
On Friday, more than a hundred leaders of the nation’s most prominent LGBTQ and civil rights organisations signed a letter condemning racism, racial violence and police brutality.
It states: “Many of our organisations 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, recognise 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.”