The following is an open letter from the City’s Office of LGBT Affairs to Philadelphia’s LGBTQ communities and allies regarding 2020 Pride celebrations in the wake of COVID-19 and civil unrest in response to police violence.
To Philadelphia’s LGBTQ Communities and Allies,
Every year, June marks an important opportunity to honor the resilience of the many intersections of our LGBTQ family.
Through Pride, we celebrate our right to love who we love and be who we are as our true, authentic selves. We also observe Immigrant Heritage Month, a national effort to bridge the divides across communities through the power of storytelling. We recognize disability pride, and challenge the systemic ableism and stigmatizing definitions of disability. We also commemorate Juneteenth, honoring to the end of slavery in this country.
All of these occasions are opportunities to honor and recognize the lives and work of our diverse communities, without which, Philadelphia would not be the dynamic city it is.
The celebration of Pride has changed over many years, and as we adapted to changes from the global COVID-19 pandemic, we understood that this year’s Pride celebrations would look different than many in our community have grown accustomed to.
Although it has been half a century since the fateful protests over many hot summer nights at the Stonewall Inn, we as LGBTQ communities know that the fight began long before and has endured much beyond that day. We see, with renewed clarity, the similarities between that summer 51 years ago, and the ongoing demonstrations across the globe today.
Today, we say again, unequivocally, that Black Lives Matter. Not just during times of injustice, but every day. Always.
As we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and demonstrations for racial justice here in Philadelphia and across the country, we understand that these calls to action represent the complex overlapping struggles of many marginalized identities—queer and trans and Black and Indigenous people of color and beyond.
Protest and activism has long been an essential part of LGBTQ Philadelphians’ identity. At the Dewey’s lunch counter in 1965, our communities boldly fought for our rights–years before that first brick (or shot glass) was ever thrown at Stonewall. We have persisted through years of revolution and evolution, challenges and victories, and now, we must again rise to the occasion.
Too many people today are familiar with painful experiences of discrimination simply because of who they are—as a trans person, a person of color, an immigrant, a person with a disability, or any intersection of identities therein.
In the face of continued racial injustice, and amidst a global pandemic, these experiences of historical and systemic oppression have been more pronounced while also feeling the pain and hardship of collective grief and loss.
We are called on again to be resilient in the face of adversity. Our community has persevered through crises before—from the indifference of many during the early days of the AIDS epidemic, to the ongoing acts of violence committed against our trans siblings of color, and yes, the acts of brutality committed against those in our community at the hands of law enforcement.
Just as we owe our present to the struggles of our elders and our ancestors fighting before us, we too, must do our part to ensure the path forward together, for the future of our LGBTQ family. We must also fight this battle alongside those of us who are most marginalized within our community. We carry on our ancestors’ legacy through Pride, and this year we weave another vitally important thread in the inclusive rainbow of the More Color More Pride flag.
This year—more than ever—we celebrate Pride as protest. This year, we have the opportunity to build community, to share in our collective experiences, to innovate, to adapt, and grow together as we have always done despite ongoing hardship and challenges.
This year, we honor and uplift the voices of those within our community who continue to be most marginalized; transgender and non-binary individuals, people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, elders, youth, and those who live at the intersections of these many complex identities.
Celebrate Pride Month in Solidarity
Join the Office of LGBT Affairs as we celebrate #SolidarityPridePHL. In the eternal refrain of our community—we’ve come so far, but we know there is much yet left to do. Today, we recommit to the work of building a more just future for us all.
The Office of LGBT Affairs