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Letters: Reclaiming Pride — A response from FTW+ Liberation

FTW+ Liberation, wrote this Letter to the Editor in direct response to Nicole Murray Ramirez’s recent commentaries on San Diego Pride:

Reclaiming Pride: A response from FTW+ Liberation

Anyone who grew up under the tyranny of sodomy laws should remember the fear the police could instill in queers and gays.  So when the San Diego Human Rights Commissioner or “Mayor of Hillcrest” Nicole Murray Ramirez earlier this week threatened “Black Lives Matter and trans activists”  by saying don’t even try because this time you will be arrested and taken to jail” the hypocrisy was glaring; so glaring, in fact, that even our white, cisgender, heterosexual friends picked up on it on social media.  But social media is not the same as bringing your body and your voice to stand with us as the parade goes by – a fitting metaphor, perhaps, for how rainbow capitalism has left behind the very people who were the original Spirit of Stonewall.

We, FTW+ Liberation, are Femme, Trans, and  Women of Color + ,  a collective of brown, black, indigenous, trans, disabled, gender non-conforming, two-spirit+ people, and allies who recognize that there is no pride for some without liberation for all. We are educating and asserting a call to action for Pride 2017 in the name of the national movement, No Justice No Pride. Together we fight for justice for all our communities: the queer, trans, disabled, black, brown, indigenous, two-spirit, and low-income people who have been left behind by Corporate Pride.

For us, “rainbow capitalism” is the same as ordinary capitalism. It is the intentional pursuit of individual accumulation of goods and wealth, but with a rainbow flag. It is the wholesale buying into the idea of “every man for himself,”  of “he who dies with the most toys wins,” and perhaps most importantly, of “I know it’s wrong, but it’s easier than fighting.” It means ignoring collusion with companies or other entities who profit from prison labor, the seizure of native lands and the assault and murder of the people on them, from the war on drugs, the legacy of redlining and blockbusting and carpetbagging, and from outright slavery, whether for sex, agricultural, domestic, or other labor.

Perhaps for some, rainbow capitalism was the goal all along. Perhaps for some, the goal was always to assimilate into the patriarchal mainstream, and distance themselves from the “radicals,” to get queerness to a place where they didn’t have to be “Othered” anymore. But for many of us, this is simply not ever going to be a possibility. A report cited in this very magazine says that Race is the primary barrier to the career advancement of LGBTQ people of color. Perhaps those who now benefit from rainbow capitalism forget – perhaps they WANT to forget – that once, just being queer could cost you everything. For some of us, it still does – and since being a person of color, indigenous, or trans also regularly costs us everything – our lives included – many of us are in double, triple, or higher jeopardy. Bearing all this in mind, the fact that Pride exists at all (a testament to trans women of color and their advocacy and “radicalism”) is indeed a source of pride for many. But when members of the local LGBT community strive so visibly to demonize us and demand that we march shoulder to shoulder with the state forces who kill us, we must conclude that they have, indeed, turned their backs on us.

For years, San Diego Pride has ignored concerns of queer, trans and two spirit communities in San Diego County, especially people of color. Specifically, they have been unwilling to break ties with entities who harm LGBTQ2S people. Time and time again, we have been dismissed. Even in the current political moment, San Diego Pride insists on continuing business as usual, ignoring the most marginalized members of our community. We must bring pride back to it’s roots.

We operate in the name of No Justice No Pride  who protested Pride parades in other cities such as Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, New York, and others.  We endorse their list of demands as equally relevant to our San Diego community, including:

1)      San Diego Pride will honor the legacy of Pride and the trans women of color who inspired it by ensuring that trans women of color play a central role in decision-making processes.

a)      San Diego Pride’s executive board will include a paid position for a trans woman of color with deep connections to San Diego’s trans community. A San Diego Native is preferred.

b)      San Diego Pride will consult and listen to the needs of trans women of color to ensure that Pride is safe and accessible to trans women of color and that it does not erase their historic role in the birth of pride.

2)      San Diego Pride will take a strong position against state violence and end its endorsement of the police and other law enforcement agencies by:

a)      No longer allowing SDPD or any other law enforcement agency in uniform to march in the Pride parade,

b)      committing to scale back police presence at all San Diego Pride events,

c)       and barring from participation in its festivities recruiters from any local, state, and federal law enforcement department or agency.

3)      San Diego Pride will address its neglect of native, indigenous and two-spirit communities, by:

a)      Creating a paid managerial position within San Diego Pride reserved for a native or indigenous leader (Preferably of the Kumeyaay nation)

b)      officially and publicly recognize that San Diego Pride takes place on Kumeyaay land and make a formal commitment to work with indigenous and two spirit communities.

4)      San Diego Pride will commit to restructuring, replacing and expanding its board of directors to represent and center the leadership of historically marginalized communities, by:

a)      Replacing the executive board with people who are open to feedback, accountable to the community, and representative of marginalized communities.

  1. The executive board will include trans people of color (binary and non-binary inclusive), queer and trans San Diego natives, queer and trans youth, bisexuals, individuals with disabilities and indigenous and two spirit individuals.
  2. San Diego Pride will immediately begin the process of creating a transparent and democratic process for selecting board members.
  3. San Diego Pride will create an outreach committee that regularly meets with local trans and queer people of other intersecting marginalized identities

5)      San Diego Pride will bar corporate entities that inflict harm on historically marginalized LGBTQ2S people from participation in Pride events by:

a)      Barring all industries that profit from war, detention and incarceration, environmental destruction, evictions, community displacement and Israel’s oppression of Palestinians from participation in San Diego Pride events.

  1. Restricting all corporate branding and signage in future San Diego Pride events.
  2. Creating transparent and robust standards for screening corporations that wish to support San Diego Pride.
  3. Immediately cutting ties with Wells Fargo, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Leidos, Northrop Grumman, and any other defense contractors. Transfer San Diego Pride funds to an account with a local credit union.
  4. Immediately cut ties with Wells Fargo and defense contractors and donate any and all funds from them to local community based organizations that support queer, trans, two-spirit and Muslim communities.

We must continue to do right by Marsha P Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Storme DeLarverie and the many activists who have come after because we are far from justice, especially for queer and trans communities of color. The Stonewall Rebellion was 48 years ago, yet here we are again, demanding the same basic rights.

We have watched over the years as Queer communities in San Diego grew complacent and complicit in our systems of oppression. We have watched as Alfred Olango, Victor Ortega, Mark Atkins, Aiyana Jones, Mesha Caldwell, Ava Barrin, Jamie Wounded Arrow, Renee Davis, and many more became victims of systems that were supposed to protect them. We’ve seen community members like Edward Forman step forward to address accountability and transparency, only to be criminalized for exercising our protected rights. We are becoming perpetrators in the very systems we should be collectively resisting and actively changing.

There are those who don’t see this. We understand that rainbow capitalists have beguiled many of us into believing that their sponsorships for events like these are necessary in order to express honor, unity, and the creation of community. These events are neither accessible to our identities or to the communities that Pride has historically served.

We must address this invisibility and lack of accountability. We cannot support a corporate pride that is invested in and profits from the struggles of Queer and Trans People of Color in the name of performative allyship. These methods of exploitation and inaction, past, present, and future, must be acknowledged. The essence of community is one of unity. By stopping our practice of complacency with injustices in all our communities, we stop the marginalization of the most vulnerable, ourselves.

We were never planning a shutdown or blockade of Pride San Diego. We are instead seeking to educate the San Diego community and honor those who are no longer with us.  If anyone would like to join their voices with us in song to honor the trans women of color who have been murdered so far this year (there have been 17 as of today), we will be at Sixth and Upas during the parade, with a rally and native honor song starting at 1pm.

This rally is the kick-off for our year-long No Justice No Pride campaign that will work with the community to have our demands met by Pride 2018. For updates, follow us on Facebook @FTWLiberationSD or @NoJusticeNoPrideSD and at our instagram @FTWLiberation. You can reach us by email at FTWliberation@gmail.com.


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Posted by on Jul 13, 2017. Filed under Editorial, Online Only, Section 4A, Top Highlights. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

8 Comments for “Letters: Reclaiming Pride — A response from FTW+ Liberation”

  1. Taking Nichole’s words out of context is dishonest, a tactic that demonstrates systemic dishonesty in your organization. Paraphrasing Nichole; Nobody will be arrested if nobody disrupts or shuts down the parade.
    As far as your childish demands barring first responders, uniformed police from events is bigotry at it’s worst. The very people who keep you safe are the target of your bigotry, I am in awe at your selfishness and disrespect for those fine men and woman, trans, gay or otherwise.
    It seems to me, if you were never planning to shut down the parade rumors of this wouldn’t have been circulating, not to mention you people disrupted the trans day of empowerment, you have already established a history of disruption, not the burden is on you to prove to us the rest of the city you can act like an adult and protest in a peaceful and mature manner.

    I for one will be waiting to see if the LGBT (and the rest of the alphabet) far left can behave itself. If you can’t I hope they throw you into the dirtiest smelliest jail to spend the rest of the weekend thinking about your actions.

    The burden of proof is on you, that you are a peaceful group.

    Liz W

    • Thank you LizW, for being exactly what FTW expected. And thank you for obviously ignoring the list of people killed by the “police who protect” them. And thank you for also hoping that people get thrown in the worst possible jail if they interrupt your fun, and for assuming that if rumors exist, they must be true. That’s the epitome of the “well, the people killed by police MUST have been doing something wrong!” No wonder FTW feels abandoned by the lgbt+ community.

    • How convenient it is to think of police as people who keep the community safe. You may have been fortunate enough to experience them that way, but MANY people in our country and in our community experience the exact opposite. It is intellectually indefensible and morally bankrupt to ignore the fact that policing in America is devolving into “shoot first, then victim-blame the dead,” and that those in the gun sights are usually the most vulnerable of our neighbors, and almost always people of color.

      As for Nicole’s article, it is absurd to assert that the excerpt was taken out of context. That article was practically seething with hatred and contempt for today’s desperately needed activists… those who now carry the mantle that people like Nicole let fall to the ground once they got their share of the pie. There is a brittleness to the shrill cries of those who defend the status quo; it was there in that article, and it is there in your comment.

      Keep on badgering and belittling today’s justice warriors if you must; in doing so, you are no different from those who reviled earlier generations of our warriors. And much like them, your attitudes will eventually be recalled with shame and disgust. The fight for justice never ends, and is never extinguished by the antipathy of the apathetic.

      • I find it funny as hell neither of you can actually engage in a debate on the subject at hand. Instead name calling and in the case of Kelly you prefer to live in the past, and hold what happened decades ago up as some kind of indicator of what goes on today.
        The last TG person to be killed in San Diego was a woman who died due to being pumped up with silicone by some butcher who fled to Mexico.

        Well I am part Native American, I wouldn’t hold anybody to blame for what happened to my ancestors 150-200 years ago, that is idiotic.

        What I see these days is a generation of men and women who don’t want to work as hard as I had to in order to get my body aligned, I see a generation who wants everybody to bend to their will, I never saw it that way, I worked hard for the realignment of my body and hard to have a career and for people in that field to respect me.

        I am not seeing that with you people, you cry and wine throw tantrums, set stuff on fire, disrupt events.
        Why don’t you people grow the fu*k up, get out of your little ghetto and join the rest of us hard working Americans.
        Help Make America Great..

        Liz W

  2. Oh and to your list of demands, they are so overly broad, not to mention you copied them from the DC group.

    You people should actually read what you post before posting it.

    Liz W

  3. I’m going to guess that LizW is completely disappointed that people weren’t shot or thrown in jail and that the rally was completely peaceful, exactly as promised. (And it’s pretty clear from the article that the national No Justice No Pride agreed to have FTW carry out the rally in their name so of course the demands are identical to national. That’s what a national movement is)

    • Lauren, dial back the hostility and stop trying to guess what goes though my head.
      I am quite happy to see the far left authoritarians were able to behave in a civilized manner. I hold a very high regard for life, everyone has the right to live unless they are physically threatening the life of another.

      As far as the demands go they are not realistic.
      Take section 5a for example
      Here I will quote it.
      ” a) Barring all industries that profit from war, detention and incarceration, environmental destruction, evictions, community displacement and Israel’s oppression of Palestinians from participation in San Diego Pride events. ”

      So anybody who sells anything to a service member, or is engaged in any support activity of military infrastructure in any way form.
      It seems to me that half the people in that parade wouldn’t be there.
      This would also include bartenders who serve to active or retired military personal. The bartender profits from war every time he serves an active member of the military. Retired military receive monies from a government that supports war.

      Those demands were written by a third grader, they are not well thought out, and are an indicator to the kind of people involved in that movement.

      There is one reasonable request in mess above.
      Pride should “think global, and act local” they should support local businesses and place their funds in a local credit union, or at the very least use a bank that is a regional bank (California based).
      While most of the demands stretch the limits of stupidity, this one is quite reasonable.

      Just 1 final thought.
      When I transitioned I worked to get along with everyone, because I knew that on a person to person basis I would be respected for who I am and what I can do to add to my job, my neighborhood or whatever. There was no need to fight people over stupid things like using the restroom at work and such.
      I had a peaceful and uneventful transition, because I didn’t make any waves, and I earned people’s respect. That was in the 80s and well before the trans activists turned the whole process of transition into a freak show.
      Those of you who wear your gender identity on your sleeve, and force your way upon the rest of society will never get respect, now matter how many laws get passed, you cannot force someone to respect you. You have to earn it. This is why you will never see me in the TG community, you never have and never will.
      It is fine to have lofty goals and ideals, but you need to learn diplomacy, be patient and work from within the system, which means you have to earn someone’s respect to get in the door.

      Stop marginalizing yourselves.

      Liz W.

  4. What a bunch of hogwash.

    Stonewall aside (and it wasn’t just people of color and transgenders who were there, history rewriters), It was gay white males who created the gay revolution while most gay people of color were hiding in their closets, lesbians wanted nothing to do with any men (including gay men), and many black and Latino heterosexuals were bashing gay men. I know because I went through that revolution.

    This is what happens when you indulge in left wing identity politics. “More oppressed than thou” and the “revolution” consuming and spitting out its own a la Robespierre. Read up on the French Revolution. “Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it” — Santayana.

    We would have job and housing protections for gays nationwide if it weren’t for demands by transgenders that they be included at a time when Congress was obviously unwilling to do that. No group should have to sacrifice its rights in order to promote the rights of another group. Fight your own battles. We’ll support you, but not at the expense of our own progress.

    As for the police targeting non-whites, that is a myth. Non-whites get “targeted” because they commit more crimes. Sorry, that’s the truth.

    The political left has blood on its hands because it has called for the death of cops, and at least nine officers have been assassinated as a result.

    Sick, sick, sick.

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