I identify as a queer, white cis-woman, and I attended the Minneapolis Pride parade on Sunday with two straight, white cis-women. I was disappointed and disheartened by what was supposed to be a “prideful” event. I was saddened not only by my friends, but by my surrounding community as well.
I would hope that anyone who attends pride knows how it began. Pride did not begin as a celebration, but as a resistance, and it did not begin with straight, white cis-folks. The 1969 Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village in New York extended for days. During these protests, LGBTQ folks, especially trans women of color, stood up for their rights against police brutality and discrimination.
It was announced this year in Minneapolis that at 10:30 a.m. before the parade, there would be a protest to keep police out of Pride, among other concerns. This protest was planned before the officer-involved shooting of Thurman Blevins Jr. on Saturday in north Minneapolis, but his tragic death only emphasized the reason we need protests like these. This protest was planned for all the people who do not feel safe on a daily basis because of police brutality and discrimination. People of color in the community as a whole and the LGBTQ community of Minneapolis were and are still not being heard.
As I stood there on the crowded sidewalk and saw the protesters walking down Hennepin Avenue, I could feel the uneasiness of the mostly white folks around me. Most of them stood there in bewilderment and didn’t know what to do. As this was going on, my two friends kept discussing how the police were here to “keep us safe.” Do you think everyone at this parade feels safe with police around? With police who hold biases and guns? With police who have killed unarmed people of color? Do you think police keep everyone safe?
I heard most people around me complaining. Complaining because this protest was “ruining the parade.” The parade did start about an hour later than expected, at noon instead of 11, and there was also a half-hour gap with the parade standing still. Every white person around me pulled out their phones to see why. Some just heard the news about the killing from the night before and assumed the protest was due to the shooting. They discussed the details about the event, not caring about how Pride started as a resistance in the first place.
As the protesters walked by me, there were about five white police officers who followed. Some were in a black SUV; the rest were riding in golf carts. Almost everyone around me started clapping for the police officers and cheering. A white man was having an altercation with a white woman with two little black girls sitting next to her on the curb. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but he was cheering for the police and not for the protesters. The woman said, “Do you know who started Pride? Black, trans people.” My friends kept saying, “I understand both sides, but this is ruining Pride for me.”
My question for all of you who attended the parade, especially those who identify as white, straight cis-folks is: Have you shown up in the past for the LGBTQ community, especially the LGBTQ community of color? Have you shown up in the present as well? I’m not just talking about the Pride parade that happens once a year, but the local shelters that house people who have been kicked out of their homes? The protests against police brutality that targets people of color and LGBTQ people of color? Do you show up and listen?
Please think about this the next time you’re buying rainbow flags and buttons, and rainbow-color T-shirts and shoes from Target. It’s not enough to wear a rainbow once a year and watch a parade. Please show up for everyone in our community. And if you don’t feel comfortable going to a protest, show up in other ways. Write letters to your representatives, make a donation to an organization and keep an open mind.
Please remember these words by Micah Bazant: “No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.”
Nicole Jasperson, of St. Paul, is a research analyst.