In the wake of nationwide demonstrations against racial injustice, out gay State Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan is calling for the cancelation of Heritage of Pride’s annual Pride festivities so the community can instead channel efforts into protests aligned with the original purpose of Pride.
“Today, as Pride Month begins and protests for racial justice sweep the nation, I’m calling on Heritage of Pride to cancel conventional Pride celebrations and return to the radical roots of the modern LGBTQ movement: a protest against bigotry, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and police brutality,” Hoylman stated in a June 1 letter addressed to David A. Correa, the interim executive director of Heritage of Pride (HOP), which organizes the city’s annual Pride march and related events.
Manhattan lawmaker says it’d be “unconscionable” for community to ignore calls for justice
Hoylman is asking HOP to cancel the June 28 televised event —already dramatically different than in past years due to the need for a virtual event due to the coronavirus pandemic — and instead spotlight racial discrimination and police misconduct.
“When doing so, I urge you to center the voices and experiences of Black New Yorkers,” Hoylman wrote.
Furthermore, the lawmaker pointed to the growing presence of corporations at Pride events, which has frustrated many in the community and was a motivating factor in the formation of Reclaim Pride’s first annual Queer Liberation March last year on the same day as the main event — the last Sunday in June.
“This is no time for a milquetoast, corporate Pride celebration that simply celebrates the progress we’ve made since Stonewall,” Hoylman wrote. “It would be unconscionable for the LGBTQ community to ignore our Black neighbors crying out for justice.”
While Hoylman did not explicitly call for any particular events, he said New Yorkers “are in a unique position to go back to the actual place where it all began, the Stonewall Inn.”
“In the spirit of Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, and the pioneers at Stonewall, let us continue to fight so that all can live with dignity,” Hoylman wrote. “It’s our responsibility to ensure the memory and work of those who began the movement lives on.”
HOP, in response to Hoylman, has not committed to anything as of yet.
In a written statement, Correa told Gay City News on June 1 that the group “received this letter today and [we] have requested a meeting with Senator Hoylman.”
He added, “As a membership organization we will move forward with the best interests of our diverse community in mind and keep front and center the best use of Pride as a platform for justice and equality for all.”
Hoylman’s letter was delivered on the first day of Pride Month and a week to the day after George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who dug his knee into Floyd’s head until he went unconscious and died. Many other disturbing cases have also emerged as of late, including the death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed in March by cops who stormed into her home and shot her to death, and transgender man Tony McDade, who was killed by cops in Tallahassee, Florida, on May 27 in a case with unanswered questions about the circumstance surrounding his death.
There have also been local cases of fatal police interactions with queer individuals dating back to last year — including trans woman Layleen Xtravaganza Cubilette-Polanco, who died from epileptic seizeures while being held in a “restricted housing” cell at Rikers Island, and Kawaski Trawick, a Black gay man shot to death in his home by officers responding to his false report of a fire in his apartment, which may have been part of an emotional distress episode affecting him.
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