On June 15th, 2020, I began my interim role with Stonewall Columbus and while we were only days away from what has traditionally been our Pride Festival and March weekend at that time due to the COVID-19 pandemic the organization had pushed the march event to an October timeframe. As I stepped into the role, I don’t know that I was ever more aware of my intersectionality as a Black queer person.
The U.S. was alive with protests from coast to coast and border to border as the world watched the continued demonizing and killing of Black people in this country. As a Black person I was already riddled with anxiety, a feeling that only seemed to intensify as the eyes of the country shifted to rest on every Black person. My every action as a community servant would be watched; would be judge; would up for public debate. I stepped into a community guiding role at the height of a moment when the LGBTQIA+ community was also asking our communities to rethink how we celebrate and recognize Pride—how we work to recenter our efforts to ensure we uplift those most in need of centering in our continued fight for full equality—Black and Trans members of our community.
The third weekend in June has long been the community moment to celebrate and show Pride here in central Ohio and in 2020 the traditional weekend would have partly occurred on June 19th. This date has great significance in the U.S. as it is also recognized by many as Juneteenth. Last year as I considered the weight of the moment, I found that there was only one thing to do for our LGBTQIA+ community—to take the space and make sure we uplifted the Black community that has also long fought for liberation in this country.
My statement last summer was met with mixed sentiment; but if nothing more it helped bring forward a community conversation that has not always been had. It has helped ensure that as we move forward as an organization and community, we will always be reminded to make space and uplift this very important moment in American history.
In this month of June when we work to uplift and honor the LGBTQIA+ community’s long and continued fight for full equality and acceptance we must make space to recognize and uplift Juneteenth; we do this because of the intersectional identities within our community that were the leaders of change in the queer community’s fight to be seen, equal, and accepted.
This year on June 15th, the U.S. Senate passed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday; it passed through the House of Representatives on June 16th and President Joe Biden signed the bill on June 17th.
With the greatest Pride,
Densil R. Porteous (he/they)