Happy Pride Month!
Updated: Jun 23
June 28th 2020 marks 51 years since the start of the Stonewall Rebellion and 50 years since the first ever Pride Marches were held in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.
In the 1960s, homosexual acts were still illegal in every US state except Illinois. Not only was anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination something of a social norm, but the community was also made subject to persistent acts of police brutality. Gay bars, including the Stonewall Inn, were typically operated by the mafia and were frequently raided by the police. Women were arrested if they were wearing fewer than three pieces of feminine clothing and drag queens, after being pushed into the toilets where police verified that they were men, also faced arrest. In fact, police regularly raided an array of places known to be popular amongst LGBTQ+ individuals, even engaging the tactic of sexual entrapment. These raids commonly turned violent, resulting in the injury and death of a number of LGBTQ+ people.
While accounts differ and there is no absolute consensus regarding what actually happened on the first night of the Rebellion, it is indubitable that the LGBTQ+ community was tired of being so aggressively repressed and abused. It’s said that something in the air was different that night and when the police arrived and began their routine, violent raids, somebody fought back. Whether it was a shot glass, a brick, or a purse, thrown by Marsha P. Johnson (a black drag queen), Sylvia Rivera (a transgender woman), Stormé DeLarverie (a lesbian) or someone else, perhaps we will never know.
What we do know is that somebody threw something at the NYPD, prompting a domino-effect of retaliation and five days of uprising that came to be known as ‘The Stonewall Rebellion’. A year later, to mark the one year anniversary of these events, the first ever Pride marches took place in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Pride started as a protest. A protest against the violent mistreatment of LGBTQ+ people. A protest against police brutality. A protest for liberation.
This community knows what it’s like to feel compelled to take to the streets and demand change.
This community knows that it works and this community would not have made the crucial progress that it did without the courage of the trailblazers at Stonewall.
This community must stand alongside other communities and minorities when they decide to do the same.
Half a century later, when LGBTQ+ people head to Pride swaddled in rainbows, to a soundtrack of Gaga and Kylie, it is easy to forget why we’re there. Yes, Pride is a celebration. It’s a celebration of the progress we’ve made in obtaining some equal rights and it’s a celebration of LGBTQ+ culture and community. More importantly though, Pride is still a protest.
The fight for LGBTQ+ liberation is not over until every LGBTQ+ identifying person is free to be who they are: at home, in the workplace, in the streets. Heck, in their own community- how many Pride marches have TERFs interrupted in recent years?! You don’t need us to recite statistics; this fight is obviously far from over.
Accordingly, this Pride month, the underlying focus of our work will be intersectionality.
In celebrating our community, we want to re-emphasise the fact that we only live in a society whereby a platform like this can actually exist because of the work carried out by queer trailblazers who embodied some of the most discriminated against characteristics.
We want to highlight that the experience of identifying as LGBTQ+ will vary immensely between different queer aspiring lawyers and ensure that a blanket, ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is not taken in supporting them.
We want to engage with, learn from and share the stories of people right across the gender identity and sexual orientation spectrum, at every social intersection.
Ultimately, we want to ensure that we are empowering every queer applicant.
After all, the queer lawyers of tomorrow will contribute to the law-making that shapes society for the queer community of tomorrow. Without intersectional, diverse representation in law, the frameworks and regulations that govern our everyday lives will never be truly reflective of the people they’re designed to apply to.
Finally, as a brief update, the majority of us here at QLT have spent the past month taking university exams. As of next week, the entire team will officially be finished and we’ll be investing our new-found time into getting as much quality content out as possible.
While we’ve been overwhelmed by both the volume and quality of Campus Ambassador applications, we’ve had a few requests to extend the deadline so that students can wait until after exams to apply. The new deadline is now 15th June and interviews will commence shortly after.
Very soon we’ll also be recruiting an ‘Admin Officer’, so check back on the ‘Join Us’ section for more information on that and the Campus Ambassador roles.
Last but not least, we’ve got some exciting news and announcements coming your way over the next few weeks, so keep your eyes peeled on our social media channels!
On behalf of the team, thank you to everyone who’s supported us in any capacity so far; we are deeply grateful and appreciative.
Stay safe, stay united and please, stay in touch with our community’s history.
Stonewall was a protest.
Liv Reilly and Owen Hussey
Co-Founders and Co-Chairs