Guest Commentary: The first Pride was a riot

by Lourdes Zavaleta
(Lourdes Zavaleta is the managing editor of OutSmart Magazine, based in Houston. Her editorial appeared in the June 2020 issue of the magazine and is reprinted here with permission.)
June is Pride Month, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out the sad irony of commemorating the Stonewall Riots in New York City while the same kind of civil-rights protests are being seen nationwide in response to the senseless killings of George Floyd and so many other Black Americans.
Lourdes Zavaleta
Floyd, an unarmed Black man, was handcuffed and then murdered outside of a grocery store by Minneapolis police on May 25. Two weeks earlier in Louisville, Ky., Breonna Taylor, a Black woman, was asleep in her bed when police officers broke in and shot her to death. In February, Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man, was jogging in an upscale rural Georgia neighborhood when he was ambushed and murdered by neighborhood vigilantes. The list goes on.
These incidents show a horrifying pattern of innocent Americans being brutalized because of the racial tensions that have existed in America for centuries. We cannot allow these injustices to occur any longer. It is time to expose and condemn racism and the white-supremacist (and anti-LGBTQ) organizations that traffic in hatred and lies.
The LGBTQ community understands all too well the need to mobilize to resist police brutality. It is in our history. Each year, our Pride celebrations commemorate the breakthrough moment in the summer of 1969 when three LGBTQ women of color — Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Storme DeLaverie — kicked off the movement and pushed us to declare that we would no longer tolerate abuse from corrupt police officers. We had decided that it was time to live openly and authentically in a country that routinely demonized its LGBTQ citizens.
OutSmart stands in full solidarity with the Black community in the fight against this systemic oppression. We call on all members of the LGBTQ community to use whatever privilege they have been afforded in the fight for justice.
We can all promote racial justice by signing ballot-initiative petitions, donating to fundraisers for progressive candidates and their causes, sharing information and networking opportunities online, staying informed, voting, protesting, and more. A helpful resource list is found on the Black Lives Matter organization’s website at
Finally, we want to remind you to take a minute to send positive thoughts to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and every victim of police brutality and racism. And don’t forget to check on your own friends and family who are grieving over these heartbreaking murders.
Black Lives Matter. Happy Pride.

Volume 22
Issue 4

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