On June 11, the ANSWER Coalition and the Party for Socialism and Liberation marched alongside over 60 other organizations, including Brooklyn Community Pride Center, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and others in this year’s Brooklyn Pride.
Drag and music performances ran through the afternoon leading up to the largest march in Brooklyn Pride history in an all-day celebration of the LGBTQ community. Thousands lined the sidewalks along Fifth Avenue in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn to watch the first Pride march in two years due to the COVID pandemic, cheering and chanting along as organizations passed by. The march started at Lincoln Place and continued down Fifth Avenue to Ninth Street.
In the midst of a recent rise in anti-LGBTQ sentiment, this year’s march took on special significance for those who came.
“I come from a community where diversity is not always celebrated and people are still not out,” said Genesis Aguino, a participant in this year’s Pride and a member of the LGBTQ community. “So being in a space where people are celebrating themselves … it means a lot to me.”
‘A lot of people are not safe’
That message of celebrating inclusion took on an especially resounding character as onlookers joined in chanting, “Trans people are welcome here,” along with organizers in the parade.
Participants noted that attacks on the trans community were attacks on the working class even in places like New York City, which is often mistakenly seen as a safe haven for LGBTQ people.
“So many Black low-income people, especially trans people, were excluded from sources of income [after the pandemic] … and a lot of people are not safe,” stated Aguino.
Indeed, trans people, and particularly trans people of color, are routinely turned down from employment opportunities and prevented from receiving healthcare. They are also at a higher than average risk of homelessness and being victims of violent crime. In 2021 alone, the number of murders of transgender people doubled from 2016, and 2022 has already seen at least 14 transgender people killed.
These deaths come on the heels of a slew of legislation targeting the LGBTQ community, particularly youth, in a “society-wide campaign to demonize and criminalize LGBTQ people,” according to a recent editorial in this publication. High profile legislation includes the Florida “Don’t Say Gay” law, which passed in March, prohibiting public school teachers from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom, and a law passed in Oklahoma this May requiring public and charter school students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their sex assigned at birth. These, among many other laws across the country, have already blocked many transgender people from receiving the care and support they need.
“The passage of these laws makes it important, now more than ever, to get in community,” emphasized Molly Comeaux, one of the organizers of the PSL contingent at Pride.
‘We’ll fight back’
Despite these attacks on the LGBTQ community, participants remained hopeful and determined, showing solidarity with others across the country.
“There’s pushback [against LGBTQ rights], but we’ll fight back,” said Francis [last name withheld], another attendee. “We’re showing up in New York, we’re showing up in Florida, we’re showing up in Oklahoma. And whatever other states — we’ll be there too.”
Pride in New York City continues through the end of June, and many more events are scheduled over the next few weeks.