June is LGBTQ+ pride month which celebrates different sexualities, gender identities and focuses on educating ourselves and others about the history of the community.
The Stonewall Riots is a crucial aspect of the LGBTQ+ community’s history, as it completely changed what rights gay and trans people have. On June 28, 1969, there was a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village. 13 people were then arrested for violating discriminatory laws. This caused an outrage. Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans woman and gay liberation activist, was on the frontlines of the riot. Johnson, along with hundreds of gay and trans individuals, started fighting back and protesting.
Afterwards, Johnson started going to meetings and rallies for gay and trans rights. In 1970, Sylvia Rivera, a Puerto Rican trans woman who was friends with Johnson, came to Johnson with the idea of creating an organization that would help get young trans people off the streets called Street Transvestite Activist Revolutionaries (STAR).
Eventually, Johnson became known as “Saint Marsha” and continued to be an activist for the LGBTQ+ community until she lost her life on July 6, 1992. Her body was found in the Hudson River and ruled as a suicide, even though her friends and acquaintances disagree.
It is important that while celebrating LGBTQ+ pride this month, we also honor and respect black and Latinx trans women who fought for gay and trans rights.
The riots led to numerous pride organizations that focus on protecting and helping LGBTQ+ individuals. It created new discussions about gay rights and apparent homophobia that was and still is in the world.
Last year, Keizer had its first pride fair which was organized by Claire Snyder. However, the event has been canceled this year.
Snyder expressed that the reason she had to cancel was due to feeling scared for her safety. Anti-LGBTQ+ protestors posted personal information about Snyder and her children online for others to harass and threaten them. She felt that the police were doing nothing to help her and heard through recordings that some of the officers agreed with the views of the protestors.
As a lesbian in Keizer, I was heartbroken to hear that there wouldn’t be a pride fair this year. Last year was my first pride event ever and the experience was incredible. I was there for hours, met dozens of friendly and loving people, saw my first drag show, and most importantly, felt free to be myself.
The pride fair cancelation feels like a huge set back for LGBTQ+ Keizer residents and another win for homophobic groups. I hope that there will be a pride event next year and that city council members in Keizer will work harder to do more for the gay and trans community.
Until then, I am not going to let the cancelation affect how I celebrate pride month. I plan to express myself freely and to speak up about LGBTQ+ rights as much as I can. Gender identity and sexuality is a beautiful thing and deserves to be celebrated, respected, and cherished.
(Bee Flint is the community reporter for the Keizertimes.)