Black, queer, trans, criminalized – the young people who put together Sunday’s event are living on the front lines of struggle in this country. They are to our times what the early trailblazers of the gay rights movement were to theirs. They have been deemed disposable. The abuse they endure is largely invisibilized. And in the face of state-sanctioned violence, they are not looking to embrace salvation through respectability. They are defending their identities and their communities as having inherent worth, and demanding visibility in a culture that would turn a blind eye to their destruction.
As Jason Tompkins, one of the event’s organizers stated after the action, “I want it to be mundane and unremarkable that black queer and trans folk prioritize their own healing, knowledge production and legacy building in the organizing and mobilizing that we do.”
In their public statement, the organizers of Sunday’s #BlackOutPride event in Chicago noted that, within a few years of the Stonewall Riots, the legacy of the gay rights struggle was already being rewritten with an eye toward assimilation. “By 1973,” the organizers wrote, “only three years after the first march in honor of Stonewall, organization of Pride events around the country were taken over largely by wealthy cisgender gays and lesbians, looking to transform the march that began in New York from political protest to an opportunity for mainstream visibility. That same year – coinciding with homosexuality being removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of Mental Disorders and Conditions – trans and gender non-conforming people saw themselves banned from parades and gatherings around the nation.”