Pride intersected with Black Lives Matter on Sunday as hundreds marched to Minneapolis’ Loring Park on a weekend typically reserved for the annual gay pride festival.
Twin Cities Pride said because of the coronavirus it would be shifting to virtual events and supporting social justice groups marching for Black Lives Matter.
The Taking Back Pride march made its way through downtown Sunday demanding justice for George Floyd while calling for community control of the police and raising awareness of the violence against black transgender women. At least 16 transgender or gender nonconforming people were killed this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which said it’s an underreported crime.
Signage and speakers at Taking Back Pride all echoed “Black Trans Lives Matter” and noted that the 1969 Stonewall riots were led by black and brown transgender women in response to police brutality, and that remains at the core of protests 51 years later.
“Change is not made quietly. ... You can’t dismantle one ‘ism’ without taking them all down. And that’s what today recognizes,” said Kiara Stapleton, a black, nonbinary 30-year-old. “Until this is for everybody, it stands for no one.”
Stapleton said Black Lives Matter has been protesting police presence at Twin Cities Pride for years. As the movement has grown, that awareness and call for action have spread. Twin Cities Pride shared at the start of pride month that “we have joined the chorus of community voices to strongly call on the City of Minneapolis to suspend the current requirement for event planners and organizers to contract with off-duty Minneapolis Police Department officers for security at large events.”
Police were not present at Sunday’s gathering in Loring Park, where DejaJoelle led the crowd through a series of stretches, dances and breathing exercises. The artistic director of BLAQ, a local dance company, said it’s all about “healing the body through informed movement.” She said while Floyd is no longer able to take a breath, “We can breathe and we’re going to practice it. Everything starts with the breath.”
The crowd listened to a slate of speakers and live musical performances, including Mikko Blaze, an Afro-Latinx transgender singer who is the 2018 World Karaoke Champion. Though this year’s Pride didn’t have a parade, Blaze said he welcomed the change because it meant less corporate involvement. He said this year took on a greater meaning and importance standing up for black lives.
“This is what Pride originally was: a protest,” Blaze said.