Opinion: LGBT Pride month should return to its original spirit, says Madrid resident
Wednesday, June 6, 2018 - 12:52 pm

To the Editor:

We are now a few days into June, which for some of us holds significance as LGBT Pride month. We commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall riots against police repression of the LGBT community and the gains made of the ensuing decades by the LGBT liberation movement it galvanized. While celebrating our progress, it is increasingly important that we take stock of the ways in which this movement has changed over those decades, and the people it has left behind.

Any place where sexual, romantic, and gender minorities congregated in the United States was potentially subject to police repression in the United States in the 1960s. Always deeply homophobic, the country’s bigotry intensified as it was exploited to advance a paranoid domestic agenda during the Cold War. When the Stonewall Inn in New York City was raided by police, its patrons greeted them with broken bottles, rocks, and bricks. The conflict ran on for a day afterward, led, famously, by a black transgender woman name Marsha P. Johnson.

A movement for the liberation of LGBT Americans formed rapidly after the incident. Johnson, continuing her leading role in that movement, focused on LGBT youth who were forced to live on the streets because the oppression they faced. Sadly, decades later, Johnson lost her life in the way so many transgender women do — homocide. Her body was found in the Hudson River.

I review this history to remind people that Pride month is rooted in a form of radical politics, centered on the liberation of the most vulnerable among us. I also wish to remind people that the transgender community played a central role in the LGBT movement from its very beginning. More ‘mainstream’ sectors of the movement have drifted far from this ideal, no more apparent than when Jennicet Gutierrez, an advocate for both the transgender community and for undocumented immigrants, was ejected from a Pride celebration at the Obama White House for calling on the President to release of transgender undocumented immigrants. Transgender inmates face rape and other forms of severe violence under detention.

Gutierrez was jeered and booed, harangued in the press for being ‘rude’, a stunning concern to prioritize over the safety and well-being of undocumented transgender immigrants. Some journalists asked why the ‘T’ was even included in ‘LGBT’. Yet the liberal Democrat mind and its priorities are ever-flexible. Headlines today bear the name of Roxsana Hernandez, a transgender woman who was detained by ICE and died in custody. With Trump in Obama’s place, the comfortable, affluent liberal establishment is moved to pay lip service to the oppressed and the vulnerable.

Today we see police in the ranks of the Pride marches, members of the same apparatus of state repression that beat skulls at Stonewall. Popular brands advertise themselves at Pride festivals, reducing the LGBT community to a marketing demographic. This year, let us reject the co-opted, compromised movement of the comfortable and affluent, and return to the original spirit of Pride: solidarity with the oppressed.

Corey McGrath

Madrid