How Pride and Protest go together
It's LGBTQ Pride Week in Seattle. There's a special focus this year on activism, and on lifting up the voices of Black, indigenous and people of color who are trans.
Elayne Wylie is Co-Executive Director of the Gender Justice League and Executive Producer of Trans Pride Seattle.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Elayne, can you tell me why it's still important for trans people to be celebrated and their challenges called out separately during Pride?
Elayne Wylie: When you have a special event that really calls out a particular community, it says ‘Hey, I exist. I exist in a community. There's lots of us. We matter.’ We're actually starting to see that more and more in our community. We've seen that for many, many years with the Dyke March. Now, we see Asia Pride, Latinx Pride, Black Pride.
We've started to see smaller communities around Seattle start to host their own pride. It's a recognition of a community that says we don't want to be overshadowed by something else. We want to be identified for who we are, and we're proud of the work we've done.
This year, there is heightened awareness that Pride really started with a riot, and that the march toward equity is really not over for LGBTQ people. Can you tell me what are trans people in Seattle still marching for?
Some of the most significant elements that happened 50 years ago, Stonewall, Compton Cafeteria riots, those weren't just riots, those were a response to governmental oppression. Those were a physical response that says ‘No more. We refuse to be bullied. We refuse to be mistreated and discriminated against.’ Trans people were at the forefront of those, especially trans women of color, were often at the forefront of those experiences.
Fifty years later, here we are. We're still in a society where Black trans women, Black and brown trans women are subject to the most amount of violence in our community. We're still facing untold amounts of violence. We're still facing serious marginalization and oppression. But, it is within a new lens. It's with a new avenue to be able to see that through, and the Black Lives Matter movement has been able to offer up some strong leadership to that end.
How does Trans Pride and the movement for trans rights overlap with the Black Lives Matter movement?
One, for a very obvious reason, that there are Black and brown trans people in our movement that are, in many cases, at the forefront and leading the movement in many different ways. When we examine the struggle that Black Lives Matter is facing, and as we see gains in different communities and across the nation, we're caught up in that same struggle.
As we see those gains, they actually do benefit trans people. I think we there is incredible alignment with the trans movement, the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives Matter was actually started by queer people, and in some cases, either trans or non-binary identified people.
You can find the schedule of Pride events, including Trans Pride, a film festival and karaoke at together.pride.org
Listen to the interview by clicking the play button above.