Trans* Pride and The Stonewall RallyBottom Highlights, Trans Progressive Thursday, July 31st, 2014
Commentary: Trans Progressive
Prior to this year’s Friday night Stonewall Rally, July 18, the organizing collective of the first annual San Diego Trans* Pride and March requested a few times of San Diego Pride that a dedicated space be set aside for the marchers in the audience area of San Diego Pride weekend’s kickoff event. The march was to begin at Sixth and Upas and end at the Stonewall Rally at University and Normal. With Laverne Cox being the keynote speaker at the Stonewall Rally, the Trans* Pride and March organizing collective wanted a dedicated section for trans people and close allies to stand in solidarity with the first trans keynote speaker in San Diego Stonewall Rally’s history.
San Diego Pride politely turned them down each time the Trans* Pride and March organizing collective asked to be given space.
July 18, the Trans* Pride marchers ended up being a group that was about two blocks long. At the end of a march that began at Sixth and Upas, the two or three-hundred marchers arrived at the Stonewall Rally entrance gates. As the marchers entered, they repeatedly chanted “Give us space! Give us space!” It was a chant to highlight that the trans marchers weren’t afforded the opportunity to stay grouped together inside the Stonewall Rally’s boundary fences to listen to the speech of Laverne Cox, the breakout trans actor of the series Orange Is The New Black.
What the Trans* Pride marchers saw happen next appeared strategic. The San Diego Pride Stonewall Rally emcee joined in from the stage microphone chanting “Give us space!” in time with the trans marchers, and then the chant was silenced by dance music being loudly played on the stage speakers. Since the trans marchers were divided and diluted in the Stonewall Rally audience, there could be no on-the-spot organized response.
I was near KUSI reporter Sasha Foo when this occurred. She couldn’t figure out what the “Give us space!” thing was about and it was a confusing narrative to try to explain. After a minute or two of trying, I realized I couldn’t explain what had just happened. Pride’s emcee appropriated the chant from the lips of the marchers and effectively diluted the message of the “Give us space!” chant. He tactically made the quieting of the chant look like a moment of LGBT community solidarity.
A number of the speakers at the Stonewall Rally, including Laverne Cox, paid homage to Sylvia Rivera, a trans Stonewall Riot veteran and trans community icon who passed away in 2002. If Rivera were only there to hear herself lauded.
Rivera considered herself an “action revolutionary,” founding the “Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries” in the 1970s and the “Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries” in the 1990s. During the 1973 New York Christopher Street Rally – a precursor event to later New York City Prides – there were a number of speakers selected to speak in honor of the Stonewall Riot and Uprising. Rivera was explicitly excluded from the list of scheduled speakers. During the Christopher Street Rally, she simply took the stage and gave a speech anyway.
“You all tell me go and hide my tail between my legs,” Rivera said in that speech. “I will no longer put up with this sh**. I have been beaten; I have had my nose broken; I have been thrown in jail; I have lost my job; I have lost my apartment – for gay liberation – and you all treat me this way? What the f***’s wrong with you all?”
So if Sylvia Rivera were consulting the marchers of the Trans* Pride and March prior to the march, what would she have told the marchers to do as a response to not being given space in the Stonewall Rally audience? My guess would be that she would have recommended having the two or three-hundred marchers just take the stage as their space at the rally, and over the microphone state that if San Diego Pride wanted them off the stage, there’d be a space cleared for them in the audience area. And, then the sitting marchers would just wait to see what San Diego Pride did next.
To say the least, it would be interesting to see how San Diego Pride would respond to “action revolutionary” trans people embracing the tactics of the gay liberation movement at one of their Stonewall Rallies.
Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=50084