A group of activists interrupted the Capital Pride Parade in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, demanding parade organizers address issues of police brutality, mass incarceration, and the increasingly corporate nature of the annual event.
“Think about what it means to be a target. Think about the experience LGBTQ folks, especially folks of color, have while being targeted by the police, and recognize that nothing is going to shift until we challenge the power dynamics,” Angela Peoples, director of GetEQUAL, told Rewire.
Members of the LGBTQ equality organization joined the demonstration under the banner of “No Justice No Pride” to disrupt and reroute the parade, one of the biggest events of Pride weekend. Among other goals, the activists are demanding a wider vision for Pride that properly honors its roots.
In 1970, the first Gay Pride parade commemorated the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising against police brutality toward queer youth and trans women. Although trans women of color played a critical role in the uprisings, they were later banned from parades, according to GetEQUAL. The group has long been calling on LGBTQ leaders to reject policies and institutions that criminalize or harm the queer and trans communities, particularly folks of color.
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As the Trump administration pursues anti-immigrant, anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ, anti-women, anti-Muslim, anti-poor, and white supremacist policies, activists said, it is worrying that Capital Pride is ignoring the most marginalized members of the community.
Capital Pride organizers have accepted sponsorships from entities and organizations—like Wells Fargo, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman—that have ties to “police, prisons, and pipelines,” which continually disenfranchise marginalized populations, including trans women, immigrants, Muslims, indigenous people, people with disabilities, and people of color, according to No Justice No Pride activists. The collective of protesters and organizers from across D.C. is pushing Capital Pride to break ties with these businesses.
Further, the demands call for the Capital Pride Alliance to restructure its leadership to include and center historically marginalized communities.
“For years, Capital Pride has ignored concerns of queer, trans and two spirit communities in DC—particularly the concerns of queer and trans people of color—regarding its complicity with entities that harm LGBTQ2S people,” a statement reads on the group’s website along with a list of their demands. “No Justice No Pride has given Capital Pride many chances to address our concerns. But time and time again, we have been dismissed. Capital Pride refuses to make systematic changes that could actually give the power of Pride back to the people whose voice and experience are most crucial to the fight for our rights today.”
A Capital Pride Alliance spokesperson shared its group’s statement with Rewire in which it said the alliance “always has and will continue to respect the wide range of diversity—of people and viewpoints—within the LGBTQ+ community …. We encourage a robust, civil, and healthy conversation within the community about all of the issues that impact us and look forward to having a mutually respectful conversation in the days, weeks, and months ahead.”
Peoples told Rewire that GetEQUAL received many positive reactions from participants and observers who understand that it is time to resist the historic oppression that many people have been subjected to.
The first few months of Trump’s administration have seen a spike in hate-based incidents, and officials shifting away from Obama-era civil rights priorities. Although resistance to the administration’s policies have grown, Peoples wondered if LGBTQ activists have become too comfortable celebrating small victories like marriage equality when they could be pushing for larger rights of the greater community who are not just gay, lesbian, trans, and queer, but also are immigrant, women, and people of color.
“Showing up right now to marches has become a very popular thing, but if we don’t challenge the power dynamics, if we are not willing to push beyond that comfort zone, then we are not going to see the transformation that all of us are fighting for,” said Peoples.
“We are in a very dangerous time for a lot of us. I think one of the dangers is complacency.”