On June 26, hundreds of people joined a Pride rally and unity march in Downtown Los Angeles organized by the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism). This celebration of LGBTQ struggle was the first Pride event organized by the ANSWER Coalition and was an opportunity to uplift the struggle in the midst of the recent upsurge in bigoted attacks on trans people and their rights with little to no media coverage.
The event was endorsed by many local organizations like Party for Socialism and Liberation Los Angeles, Trans Queer Liberation Movement, Union de Vecinos, Ground Game LA, Peace and Freedom Party of CA, KPFK, Palms Up Academy | BASCO HOUSE, Progressive Asian Network for Action (PANA), UFCW770, Black Lives Matter Pasadena, AIM SoCal and many others.
The event began in front of The Black Cat Tavern in Silverlake before the rally marched down to Echo Park for the program and celebration. The Black Cat Tavern was chosen because of its status as a historic site for LGBTQ resistance and civil rights in Los Angeles. It was where in 1967 activists protested against bigotry, police brutality, and discrimination, and was one of the first demonstrations for LGBTQ equality in the United States and preceded the Stonewall riots by two years. The Black Cat Tavern was also declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural monument in 2008 and continues to be a place of historic significance.
One of the major themes of this year’s Pride was, “For the people and by the People,” signifying the necessity of reclaiming Pride from corporations and returning it to its roots in the working class. During the rally, community members chanted “Black Cat means fight back, equal rights now!” and also tied the LGBTQ struggle to the class struggle with chants such as “Fight, fight, fight, housing is a human right!” and “Gay, straight, Black, white, same struggle same fight!”
Tsukuru Fors, member of the Progressive Asian Network for action, told the audience that “Pride means coming together and resisting any force that prevents you from being you and exercising your rights.” Jonathan Kim, an organizer with the ANSWER Coalition, connected the LGBTQ struggle internationally by highlighting that apartheid Israel should not be allowed to pink-wash their crimes against humanity by pretending to care about gay rights. Kim also added that LGBTQ liberation is tied to the liberation of oppressed people all throughout the world, such as the Palestinian people’s righteous cause for freedom.
“We must rekindle the spirit of Stonewall!” said Preston Wood of the ANSWER Coalition Los Angeles. Wood emphasized the need to stand up for working-class people who are currently under attack by white supremacy and bigotry. “We must become a fist of unity. We have to launch a crusade to stop these bigots in their place by overwhelming them in numbers! The working class has to take power and that can’t happen unless all of us unite!”
As community members marched, chants like “Up, up, up with equality, down, down, down with bigotry!” filled the streets. Cars honked in support and people came out of nearby stores and their homes cheering along. The event ended at Echo Park with musical and speaking performances from many LGBTQ artists. It was a celebration of queer joy and community in front of the recently built anti-homeless fence surrounding Echo Park, a symbol of division.
This Pride event came at a time when the LGBTQ community is under attack and when there are thirty bills in legislation nationwide attacking trans rights. This is all the more reason for solidarity to stop this bigotry and struggle for our collective liberation! Full equality for LGBTQ people now!