LGBTQIA+ History Coronavirus The World

50 years later, the legacy of Pride lives on

The New York City Pride parade has been cancelled for the first time since its origin 50 years ago. In-person events that were scheduled to take place June 14-28, 2020 are in the process of being reimagined virtually as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pride is a staple in New York City, as it has been since the Stonewall Riots prompted a revolution in June of 1969. The fight for gay-rights as we know it was born and catalyzed here. America in the 1960’s, and in the decades that came before it, was not at all welcoming for those in LGBTQIA+ community. In New York, any inclination of sexual activity between people of the same sex in public was considered illegal. That is, hand holding, kissing, or even dancing. This antiquated and ridiculous law was not overturned until 1980 when the People v. Ronald Onofre case was decided. 

These times were also riddled with discrimination and a series of raids among other forms of abuse on prominent gay bars and clubs in Greenwich village. Such spaces were some of the only places where members of the community could seek refuge and were finally able to express themselves openly without worry. Nonetheless, police brutality on the basis of sexual orientation and just plain bigotry was awfully common during these raids.  

On the night of June 28, 1969 obvious tensions arose between the two groups, and the patrons bravely decided to fight back against the police at the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar that was one of the few of its kind that opened its doors to drag queens. Notably, the first bottle of the uprising, which lasted six whole days, was thrown by a Black transgender woman, Marsha P. Johnson. The protesters were met time and time again with tear-gas and physical altercations with the police, but they persisted. Those in the street are said to have been singing slogans similar to the ones that we hear today like “gay power” and “we shall overcome.” 

It would be an injustice to ignore the contributions of the Black community to this iconic moment that started a resistance.

This moment sparked the beginning of a modern resistance that is beautifully laced with love and versatility. 

It would be an injustice, however, to ignore the coincidences of this past that align with the current civil rights demonstrations happening across the world, declaring defiantly that Black lives matter. Both movements continue to feature a spotlight on recognizing basic human rights while also condemning police practices that terrorize the communities they are meant “to serve and protect.” So much of American history is patterned with this same struggle, consistency, and perseverance. Not to mention that it was, in fact, Black women who spearheaded this revolution 51 years ago, and 51 years later Black women are again at the forefront of a movement seeking to eradicate systemic inequality. We must not let this go unnoticed.

The year after what has come to be known as the Stonewall riots, June of 1970, marked the first ever Pride parade in New York City. Though it took a long time to come, the LGBTQIA+ community has certainly overcome much of the hate and marginalization that has been thrown its way. But, they’re still fighting. To this day, new non-discrimination protections are being fought for and passed all because of their constant effort and strength. 

Since then, New York City and its Pride parade has been a proven safe-haven for vulnerable and battered communities alike. It is a time for people to come together and celebrate themselves as phoenixes who have risen way above the ashes while also acknowledging the slashed history that they are eternally attached to. 

Just last year, New York City hosted world WorldPride and some 2 million people were in attendance. This in and of itself is a testament to the impact that the revolution has had, and continues to have, all over the world. Such ever-clear and unrelenting perseverance is nothing less of an inspiration. 

Today, as the coronavirus runs its raging course throughout the United States, New York City has been noticeably hit the hardest. With nearly 212,000 confirmed cases and over 20,000 deaths thus far in the City alone, New Yorkers are being urged to remain full of the hope and drive that makes us so thick-skinned in the first place. But, this is not an easy feat, especially given the turmoil that seems to be slowly encapsulating every bit of our daily lives. Once again, we have set out in a movement that looks to challenge history and change it for good. For the LGBTQIA+ community, that anxiety is heightened tremendously. 

The absence of the iconic Pride parade will certainly have a dramatic financial impact on the people and businesses that have come to rely on it. Not to mention the mental toll that will surely come along without a break from mobilizing, resource, or strategy efforts concerning the ongoing, and seemingly never-ending, fight for equal rights. It is certainly an all-hands-on-deck sort of thing. This fight is fought every single day, with the smallest actions sometimes making the most noise, and none of it should go unnoticed. 

The contributions that the LGBTQIA+ community has made to both the City and to the greater struggle for equality are undeniable. So, the decision to cancel Pride this year was not easy. But, it was definitely necessary. However, just because the pandemic prevents us from physically coming together this year, it does not mean that the spirit of Pride in New York City won’t be felt just the same.

An online Global Pride will be broadcasted for 24-hours straight on June 27, starting in the east and moving west. Each local or participating pride chapter is hoped to have an allotment of 15-minutes of airtime each, depending on individual time zones, for performances and speeches by grand marshals. This is a community that has always come together in the face of adversity and this year is no different. My wish is for this to be yet another example of the LGBTQIA+ communities resilience that should be honored and remembered, especially in a context of human rights.

Politics The World Policy Inequality Interviews

Meet Reyna Montoya, the DACA recipient helping undocumented immigrants heal and fight for their future through art at “Aliento”

Reyna Montoya is a 27 year old DACA recipient who is now the founder and CEO of Aliento, an organization that helps the millions of undocumented immigrants to not only express themselves and their feelings but to get educated and develop themselves in leadership and organization, primarily through art, in a time that is particularly threatening to their dreams. She has bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Transborder Studies with a minor in dance, and an M.Ed. She was the recipient of the Isac Amaya Foundation’s Stylos Activist of the Year Award in 2012, and this year she made it on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in the Social Entrepreneurs category.

The Tempest: There is bravery in traveling to a foreign land in hopes of a better life, and even more so in fighting a system that’s trying to prevent you from having one. Have you ever felt the weight of the risks at any point? How did you get over that?

Reyna Montoya: I grew up in one of the most conservative districts of Arizona, whose representative was the driver of anti-immigrant laws such as SB1070. At the same time, I was surrounded by wonderful neighbors who welcomed our family with home-made cookies. At that time I was aware that politics are very disconnected from the realities we live. In 2010, I started seeing so much fear in my community, my mom would be worried about raids and was concerned about us going outside. At that moment, I decided to lift my voice for those who were too afraid to do so. I shared my story at a Republican fundraiser to shine a light on who dreamers and undocumented youth really are. 

The Tempest: At “Aliento” you use art as a primary medium not just for healing but to also empower those it’s helping. Why art?

As a dancer and choreographer (and closet-poet) I have had the privilege of seeing how art has not only served to express my emotions, but as a great tool to process the injustices I lived and witnessed, as well as all a weapon to express my hopes, aspirations, and dreams for my community. I see art as a two-fold medium where people can use it to heal, process, find their voice, and advocate.

How much do you think “Aliento” has progressed over the past year?

Aliento started as a project doing arts and healing workshops for mixed-status families. Then it evolved into a social venture where we have three major components: arts & healing program, organizing, leadership development & ally engagement. Over the past year, we have engaged over 4,000 people through our workshops, open mics, meetings, training, and speaking engagements. We have also increased our online presence with over 31,000 online reach. We also organized and trained 100 people to advocate for a permanent solution for dreamers in Washington, D.C. from over 10 states across the nation, where we engaged in over 500 direct conversations with members of Congress and visited over 300 offices in both chambers. 

What kind of message/statement do you see “Aliento” creating a ripple effect in the U.S. with, especially in these trying times?

I see Aliento as a part of a larger ecosystem to bring hope and positive system change to the undocumented community. Our hope is that Aliento serves as an innovative model, that is actively looking for different business models outside of the traditional non-profit model to bring positive change to undocumented communities, centering our work in children and youth impacted by the injustices of the current immigration system.  

How do you feel being listed in Forbes “30 Under 30” Social Entrepreneurs category this year? 

Being listed in the Forbes “30 Under 30” Social Entrepreneurs this year was a very bittersweet moment. I learned about the recognition only two months after the Trump Administration decided to rescind the DACA program, which protected me and 800,000 dreamers from deportation. This means that if the U.S. Congress does not come up with a permanent solution I could easily be deported to a pretty much unknown land. However, it also gave me hope and validation of all my parents’ sacrifices as well as the reminder that I am a hustler and I will continue to blossom regardless of how many obstacle and injustices I have to face.

Reyna Montoya is talking to crowd. Behind her is a blue, green and white background. She has papers in her hands and she is wearing a lilac blazer over a blue floral dress.
Source: La Voz Arizona

Would you like to say anything to our readers? To Dreamers of all kind?

Right now we are living in critical moments where our actions and inactions matter. I am a firm believer that injustices happen because of good people of conscience remain silent. I hope that you decide to act and stand with thousands of dreamers who not only live in fear but have hopes and aspirations to collectively make a better future for our communities. If you are a dreamer, just know that you are not alone and that there are people like me that see your wholeness! You are loved, you are not alone, and never forget that flowers still blossom in the desert!  

What are your goals for 2018?

For 2018, Aliento hopes to continue to co-create spaces of healing, empowerment, and growth among undocumented youth and children that live in mixed-status families. Our hope is that we continue to push change at the individual, community, and society level where our humanity is our driving force. We will continue to not only engage with our youth but grow our base of supporters, where our allies continue to grow and develop to better support our communities.

Reyna Montoya is holding two metal doors open and looking ahead. She's wearing a gray t-shirt that says "Arizona Dream Act Coalition" in a sky blue font. There is a blue banner hanging over the doors that say "Arizona Dream Act Coalition" in white lettering with a star pattern alongside it
Source: Patrick Breen

You can follow Reyna on Twitter, and learn more about Aliento on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and on their Website.