Cities across Maryland and Virginia celebrated Pride in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement through marches, motorcades and virtual events.
In Virginia, Diversity Richmond on June 27 hosted “Stonewall Rising: LGBTQ March for Black Lives” commemorating the work begun by transgender activists of color Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera following the 1969 Stonewall riots. Minority Veterans of America organized the event which Equality Virginia, VA Pride, Richmond Lesbian Feminists, Black Pride RVA and other Virginia groups supported.
“This Pride Month, we are reminded of the pivotal moments when LGBTQ+ Americans stood up to demand that they be treated with respect and dignity,” said Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in a statement commemorating Pride month and recognizing LGBTQ-inclusive laws taking effect on Wednesday. “As we celebrate long-overdue progress in advancing LGBTQ+ rights in our country and commonwealth, we must also redouble our efforts to ensure Virginia is inclusive and welcoming to all — no matter who you are, who you love, or how you identify.”
In Baltimore, Queers for Black Lives Matter, a coalition of LGBTQ activists committed to elevating the Black community and eradicating white supremacy through demonstrations and peaceful protests, hosted a march on June 27. which culminated in a peaceful sit-in at City Hall, according to the event’s Facebook page. The march and sit in were efforts to elevate “Black voices and the voices of Black trans people.”
The event was promoted as part of Baltimore Pride’s mostly virtual Pride celebration which began with a “Coffee with Chris Juneteenth Telethon” on June 19 and continued with a “Racism in the Drag Community” discussion on June 23. A “Transmsculine Quarantine Session” event hosted by Baltimore Safe Haven on June 24 and a town hall on June 28 were among other scheduled events.
Annapolis Pride streamed “Pride Inside and Out,” their virtual celebration and discussion which included proclamations from Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley and Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman as well as a panel forum on racism, transphobia, homophobia and hate. Panel participants included Kyree Stinson, a local leader for Black Lives Matter; Lee Blinder, the executive director and founder of Trans Maryland; and Leslie Anderson of Annapolis Pride, PFLAG Annapolis and Anne Arundel Public Library Board of Trustees.
Donations from the virtual event supported Baltimore Safe Haven, Trans Maryland and D.C.’s Casa Ruby.
Annapolis Pride on Monday marched from the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial to Whitmore Park with local leaders and Black Lives Matter “in solidarity for All Black Lives.”
In College Park, Mayor Patrick Wojahn and Capt. James Mitchell of the Prince George’s County Police Department LGBTQ Outreach Team, who wore his Pride month rainbow badge, participated in June 27’s LGBTQ Dignity Project Pride and Black Lives Matter Motorcade through Prince George’s County. The vehicle parade included decorations celebrating both Pride and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I think it was a success,” said LGBTQ Dignity Project President Krystal Oriadha who organized the event with her wife Cassy Morris, the group’s chair. “It was an opportunity for us to have Pride in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.”
LGBTQ Dignity Project is an advocacy organization which provides services for LGBTQ of all ages from at-risk youth to seniors.
The regional Pride and Black Lives Matter events took place a month after then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd.
Floyd’s death has sparked international protests against police brutality and racial violence. These include a Black Trans Lives Matter rally and march that Baltimore Safe Haven held on June 5.
“Tony McDade, his life mattered … Black trans lives matter, too,” said Iya Dammons, founder and executive director of Baltimore Safe Haven, referring to the Black trans man who was killed by a white police officer in Tallahassee, Fla., in late May. “We can’t breathe either and we haven’t been breathing for a while.”
Dammons marched with HIPS and No Justice, No Pride in D.C.’s Black Trans March on June 26. She told the Washington Blade she wanted to “make sure I stay connected with what I do and why I do it.”
“I am a product of what I preach, so I understand the pain that comes with it,” she said. “I just want to see who is still around when we’re not trendy or ‘trending’ (on social media). Who will still be around for my black trans community? Who will still love us when all the hype is gone?”