On the first full day of summer in the City of Brotherly Love, LGBTQ+ Philadelphians and their allies turned out in Center City’s LOVE Park for the Philly Queer March For Black Lives, (Recommit To Pride) rally of solidarity between gay, lesbian, and transgender people of all genders, races, colors, and ethnicities, and the city’s Black community. Following several weeks of civil unrest after the police killings of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, Louisville EMT Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks, an Atlanta man shot twice in the back, Philadelphia’s LGBTQ+ organizations and leaders came together to orchestrate the Pride Week gathering. Among the groups taking part were the William Way LGBT Community Center and the Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club, and it was a serious but fun presentation on structural racism, homo-and transphobia, with the overarching message that all Black lives matter, even those that are LGBTQ+.
When approaching the intersection of being a person of color, along with being gay, lesbian, trans, non-binary, or gender-non-conforming, the children of the rainbow often get short shrift during the ensuing discussion. However, if the coming of true racial and sexual equality is to be a reality within our lifetimes, voices such as today’s speakers, must be heard and understood. Girls Rock Philly’s Samantha Pride gave an impassioned oration raising awareness about all women, cis, trans, and GNC. Activist, rapper, and fabulous drag/comedy performer Icon Ebony Fierce not only hosted, but spoke powerfully about the need for visibility and identity. VinChelle, founder of Philly’s Black Girl Magic, invoked the Black LGBTQ+ community in all its variegated forms. These are the voices of youth, calling out to the future with the painful memories of the past.
Although today’s spirited rally and march was attended by hundreds of all ages and pedigrees, this was really an afternoon of the young: kids just coming into themselves and discovering the full flower of their authentic truths. They see the horrific violence that can befall them, whether by agents of the state, or by evil individuals who can only do violence to them. They’ve witnessed what happened to Dominique Fells, a vibrant, lovely Black trans woman whose remains were found in the Schuylkill River. They’re all too aware of the dangers which stalk all of us in the LGBTQ_ community, and they vehemently want and need all of it to stop. Every time one of us falls at the hands of others so consumed with hatted and fear that their default behavior is murder, all of us die a little inside. Compound that with the life-safety issues inherent in merely being Black or brown in America, and the overpowering scope of the problem becomes frighteningly evident.
It was a proud, but somber march from LOVE Park to the Philadelphia Art Museum, with the city’s unique version of the Pride Flag (with black and brown stripes added for inclusivity) flying alongside the Transgender Pride Flag and other colorful ensigns of queer identity. Everyone was marching purposefully toward a future whose hallmarks would be healing and acceptance, rather than the divisions and distrust with which we have so lately had to contend. May it ever be so that the calls of our youth continue, as they so commonly do, to capture the ears and minds of us all. Each of our cherished lives do, indeed, matter.