An Inclusive Pride March

The Reclaim Pride Coalition will put a focus on Black LGBTQ issues at their upcoming demonstration

22 Jun 2020 | 02:59

Last year, a group of organizers came together to reimagine what a Pride celebration could be, feeling that New York City’s parade had become an overly corporate, and overly policed, event over time. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, they created their own march without a police presence and without corporate sponsors that would match their values.

“The march was supposed to be inclusive of everyone make people feel comfortable,” said Francesca Barjon, one of Reclaim Pride’s organizers. “A lot of Black people don’t feel comfortable around police and a lot of LGBT people don’t either because we’ve all had issues of being harassed for our identity.”

About 45,000 people showed up to make the march from Stonewall to Central Park. Organizers want to duplicate that success with this year’s march on Sunday, June 28, with Black LGBTQ folks as the focal point of their demonstration.

“We’re marching against the mistreatment of people, and so we center the people who are mistreated the most like Black people, [transgender] people,” said Barjon. “We’re horrified by the police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Layleen Polanco, Rayshard Brooks and untold numbers of others, and we’re mourning the endless violent deaths of Black trans women and men like Dominique ‘Rem’mie’ Fells and Riah Milton.”

Barjon and the rest of the Reclaim Pride Coalition (RPC) has a long list of goals that they will be pushing at the march that center on ending police brutality.

In step with Black Lives Matter activists, RPC is demanding the city to reduce the NYPD’s $6 billion budget by 50 percent, and to reduce the department’s number of officers by half, as well. The group wants these funds redirected to Black-led organizations and community services.

“Housing and homeless services has nowhere near that much,” said Barjon.

The Most Vulnerable

RPC in solidarity with BLM demands the city to reimagine community safety by incorporating the tenets of transformative and restorative justice.

“Those are the things we’re marching for,” said Barjon. “These are the things we hope to be able to accomplish with the help of people getting out in the streets and making their voices heard, and making sure that they’re supporting people who have done the work of educating themselves and coming up with alternatives to what we currently have.”

Barjon and RPC say they recognize that among the most vulnerable of the queer community are Black trans, gender non-conforming and non-binary people, especially Black trans women. Often, these people are not fully represented in stories of police brutality.

“It’s interesting to think about how this all erupted years ago with Trayvon Martin and the aquittal of George Zimmerman and today this moment started with George Floyd and I think a lot of people saw the inhumanity that Black men experience,” said Barjon, noting how Black men have been center of the BLM movement. “We need to find ways to uplift all Black people and help ensure that our lives matter.”

Those interested in joining the march should arrive at Foley Square by 12:45 p.m. on Sunday, June 28. The march will depart by 1 p.m.

The coalition will be live-streaming the march for immunocompromised people who are unable to attend. The livesteam will be available at @queermarch on Facebook, Twitter/Periscope, YouTube and on reclaimpridenyc.org. A variety of virtual content about the coalition’s goals and values will also be available on their website.

The group is asking for attendees to wear face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to maintain social distance from others during the march. Members of RPC will be handing out a limited number of masks, hand sanitizer and water to those who need it.

“We’re marching against the mistreatment of people, and so we center the people who are mistreated the most like Black people, [transgender] people.” Francesca Barjon, Reclaim Pride organizer