BELOIT—“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Yusuf Adama of Beloit read that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote at the Marsha P. Johnson Intersectional Pride event Sunday afternoon at the northeast corner of State Street and Grand Avenue. The event, designed to honor black and indigenous people of color and the Latinx LGBTQ+ communities, had particular attention focused on highlighting black trans lives. A black trans woman, Johnson, is credited with starting the Stonewall Riots and over the years many black trans people have been killed because of their identities.
The Stonewall Riots occurred in 1969 in New York in response to police actions against LGBTQ individuals.
Hosted by Yellow Brick Road and SURJ-Beloit: Showing Up for Racial Justice, the event kicked off with attendees chalking the names of 42 people who had been killed. After speakers shared their thoughts, those at the event marched around Beloit’s downtown reading the names of those who had been killed.
Organizer Meg Trimm welcomed the crowd. Trimm, who aspires to become a priest in the Episcopal Church, said the church as a whole has a lot of work to do. Trimm encouraged people to show up to events, get educated and to vote.
Adama encouraged the crowd to live their lives with love and progress, ensuring that everyone can be free to express themselves.
Beloit City Council Vice President Clinton Anderson told attendees to hold their elected officials accountable and encouraged people to make public comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We want to hear from you, and we want to make some changes. Run for office, get on committees and join organizations that work for change,” Anderson said.
State Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, said the Pride movement started as an intersectional event.
“It’s especially important we remember Pride started with trans women of color being the ones who led the effort at the Stonewall Riots, and they are among those who face the most violence and oppression today. We won’t be able to celebrate Pride until can we an celebrate for every single member of the LGBTQ community,” Spreitzer said.
As an openly gay state legislator, Spreitzer said he focuses on equality under the law which has had some ups and downs. A historic decision from the Supreme Court ruled that federal civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender workers.
“For states like Wisconsin, which hasn’t had those protections, it’s incredibly important,” Spreitzer said.
However, Spreitzer said there was a setback a couple days ago when a committee at the state capitol voted to block a state agency’s request to ban conversion therapy by therapists.
“If transgender people seek counseling, they deserve to know they will be respected and treated fairly under the law,” Spreitzer said.
Spreitzer encouraged people to not only fight for LGBTQ rights, but also called for racial justice.
Artist Simone Lawrence told people they can’t rely on the government to do work only mass movements can do. Lawrence said movements in the past have led to the emancipation of slaves, LGBTQ rights and more. Continued movement will help abolish the prison industrial complex and create a restorative justice framework.