Pride 2020: Indian Country, Black Lives Matter, and the Struggle for Equality

Published on Jun 30, 2020

Black Lives Matter protest with pride flags.

Photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski, (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Author: Harper Estey

This year’s Pride Month has been unlike any other, as a social justice movement more powerful, diverse, and widespread than any seen in decades has swept across the United States. As the country grapples with the issues of racism, police brutality, and confronting its history through monuments and statues, we are also marking the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall uprising – the catalyst for the modern fight for LGBTQ2S rights in the United States, and an incredible demonstration of a marginalized group standing up and demanding the respect they deserve.

In the early hours of the morning on June 28, 1969, the police raided on the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. The Stonewall Inn was a popular location among the gay and lesbian communities, and was known to cater to their most marginalized members such as drag queens and transgender people. The LGBTQ2S community faced an anti-gay legal system in the 1950’s and 60’s, and as tensions escalated outside the Stonewall Inn, New York’s gay community broke out into riots that lasted for more than three days.

The Stonewall riots prompted organizations like the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance to form, setting the foundation for a half century of activism and advocacy that would bring the LGBTQ2S community to where it is today.

Indian Country has long stood side by side with the LGBTQ2S community, and far back into time immemorable tribes from coast to coast recognized, respected, and accepted two-spirit brothers and sisters. Just as the Stonewall uprising impacted and inspired tribes across the country, the ongoing social justice movement gets to the heart of the centuries long struggle Indigenous peoples have had to endure.

This month, a story similar to Stonewall has played out across the country. The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police spurred protests and unrest across the country, prompting an in depth national discourse on policing in the United States, and the figures that are memorialized as statues and monuments.

We are watching as people stand up and make sure their voices are heard and their lives respected today, condemning oppressive practices and institutions while demanding statues and monuments to confederate soldiers and colonizing oppressors are removed across the country.

The Stonewall uprising launched a half century of forward progress and hard fought battles for justice and equality, bringing the LGBTQ2S community greater and greater protection under the law, and an ever growing acceptance and love from within our culture and communities. Today’s movement for justice and equality demands that we stand together for our marginalized and oppressed communities, always pushing for what is right and protecting those who are vulnerable, all while bringing the same passion and commitment that those at the Stonewall Inn did a half century ago.

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