COVID-19 forced us to postpone the Stonewall Columbus Pride Festival and Parade and since that announcement the world and our organization has changed and so continues to evolve. As an organization we have undergone notable leadership change; reaffirmed a commitment that Black Lives Matter, that Trans Black Lives Matter; and have done work to acknowledge our misaligned moments of the past so we ensure we push a better future forward for all of us.
And while things continue to change at this moment we know we will not host a traditional pride festival at our postponed time in October, a possibility that looms yet for 2021, and frankly, we’re not sure a return to the normal way of doing things is the absolute right way to go. Our country is having a great awakening and quite frankly so are we; and we’ve also heard our community asking us, all of us, to rethink pride—is now no better moment?
On June 19th I shared a note, “Juneteenth: Protest and Pride!,” and in that note, I stated the following:
“In June of 1969 America had failed to hear the cries of the LGBTQ+ community’s humanity as their livelihoods and lives were being taken away in public sight. A pillar of New York City’s LGBTQ+ community, Marsha P. Johnson was a black transgender queer rights activist who fought discrimination; a regular at the Stonewall Inn who gained recognition as one of the first people to push back against police following the raid on the gay bar in June 1969. The Stonewall Uprising were riots against police brutality; but also protests against the injustices enacted on a people–the LGBTQ+ community. It was black and trans people who served as the champions of change in that moment, the leaders of protests; black and trans people who had greater injustices enacted on their bodies than their white counterparts.
And it is simply for this reason why LGBTQ+ Pride is so intrinsically tied to black pride.”
And it is, also, simply why in this moment in our country’s history we must center those at the heart of pride and so, although some items are yet left undetermined we have, however, determined we will no longer contract with or engage CPD for security during Columbus PRIDE and other Stonewall events, unless necessary for road closures; a regulation we would ask city leaders to reconsider.
We have begun exploration of alternative options to using CPD as our primary security during Columbus PRIDE. It is our full intention to divest, as we can, from CPD until we know changes have happened that set CPD on the path for systemic and lasting change in their policing practices in specific as it relates to black and black trans people. We affirm standing by our call for the City of Columbus to divest from the police and shift misaligned economic resources to better serve our communities in greatest need; we look forward to engaging the Chief’s Advisory Council as partners and accountability agents.
Bringing in an external safety and security team requires we do our due diligence in identifying the right organization for our community; this takes resources and time–we will look for partnership from the community in this effort.
Densil R. Porteous (he.him.his)
Interim Executive Director