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It’s been nearly 50 years since a demon­stra­tion at New York City’s Stonewall Inn be­gan the LGBT rights move­ment.

In the en­su­ing decades, as more vic­to­ries were scored for LGBT Amer­i­cans, what started as a riot de­mand­ing equal­ity mor­phed into pa­rades and fes­tiv­i­ties cel­e­brat­ing love and unity. But this year, in some cities, Pride re­turns to its roots.

Ear­lier this month, that hap­pened with the first Equal­ity March, and with #Re­sistMarch in Los Angeles, Cal­i­for­nia.

Brian Pendleton, founder of #Re­sistMarch, learned about the Equal­ity March in Wash­ing­ton, DC, and at first thought of mak­ing a trip across the coun­try — only to dis­cover the march was on the same day as the LA Pride Pa­rade.

“It sort of struck me as odd that our broth­ers and sis­ters would be march­ing for our rights in DC, and in LA, we were parad­ing,” he said. “I ended up join­ing the board of Christo­pher Street West, which is the LA Pride or­ga­ni­za­tion. They gave me and my newly-formed com­mit­tee con­trol over Sun­day’s ac­tiv­i­ties.”

And the 3.5-mile pa­rade be­came a thou­sands-strong protest march.

“We wanted our call to ac­tion to be ex­actly what we were do­ing: re­sist­ing those ef­forts that were try­ing to push us back in the closet and di­vide us,” Pendleton said. “This has al­ways been about so­cial jus­tice. We orig­i­nally took the to the streets, at least in LA, be­cause of the one-year com­mem­o­ra­tion of the Stonewall Ri­ots. Get­ting back to our roots as a protest or­ga­ni­za­tion re­ally felt good for us.”

Back to where it all be­gan

At­lanta Pride is mov­ing more in this di­rec­tion, and has been for sev­eral years.

June 23, 2017

—Brian Pendleton, founder of #Re­sistMarch in Los Angeles, Cal­i­for­nia

“Pride was born out of a move­ment that was a protest move­ment,” said Jamie Ferg­er­son, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of At­lanta Pride. “Par­tic­u­larly in times when we are un­der at­tack, it’s re­ally im­por­tant to em­brace those roots and look and see what the need is in the com­mu­nity. I do be­lieve that there is space and rea­son for cel­e­bra­tion, but if we be­come an event or an or­ga­ni­za­tion that is com­pletely di­vorced from that protest, civil rights, so­cial jus­tice move­ment, then I think that’s an iden­tity cri­sis.”

Ferg­er­son said the trans and dyke marches dur­ing At­lanta Pride are “in­her­ently po­lit­i­cal,” with no cor­po­rate spon­sors and no lo­gos.

“If you look at those marches, they are pretty rad­i­cal marks of claim­ing space. A lot of the signs and ban­ners are very po­lit­i­cal in those marches. There are a lot of peo­ple who just their be­ing there is a po­lit­i­cal thing — they’re from a place where it’s not safe to be out and this is their first time to be at a queer event,” she said.

It’s also po­lit­i­cal when po­lit­i­cal lead­ers join in. Nancy Pelosi was among those who par­tic­i­pated in #Re­sistMarch. At one point, Pendleton said, Pelosi didn’t think they were march­ing fast enough, so she sped up in her high heels to move the coali­tion along. An es­ti­mated 100,000 peo­ple re­claimed the LA Pride Pa­rade as #Re­sistMarch this year, demon­strat­ing on be­half of marginal­ized com­mu­ni­ties whose rights are un­der threat in the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal cli­mate. (Photo cour­tesy #Re­sistMarch)

He said the idea was in­stead of there be­ing spec­ta­tors along the streets, to have all of LA in the streets along­side each other. Pendleton also said con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, #Re­sistMarch wasn’t about the pres­i­dent, but rather to show state leg­is­la­tures that the marginal­ized com­mu­ni­ties of Amer­ica are “a big, uni­fied force” that won’t stand for dis­crim­i­na­tory leg­is­la­tion.

“We wanted ev­ery­one who feels like their rights are un­der threat to feel free to join us,” Pendleton said. “The LGBT com­mu­nity was lend­ing its gi­gan­tic, iconic rain­bow flag to any­one who felt they were un­der threat.”

Though the full line-up of fes­tiv­i­ties for At­lanta Pride hasn’t been an­nounced yet, Ferg­er­son said the racial jus­tice sol­i­dar­ity con­tin­gent would be part of the pa­rade this year, as will an ex­panded and politi­cized trans march and dyke march.

The fes­ti­val over­all will fo­cus on be­com­ing more in­ter­sec­tional and rais­ing aware­ness about anti-LGBT sen­ti­ment around the globe. How­ever, Ferg­er­son doesn’t be­lieve it’s

By DAL­LAS ANNE DUN­CAN “We wanted ev­ery­one who feels like their rights are un­der threat to feel free to join us. The LGBT com­mu­nity was lend­ing its gi­gan­tic, iconic rain­bow flag to any­one who felt they were un­der threat.”

At­lanta Pride’s place to com­pletely change over as a Re­sist-style march.

“One of the best things that we have go­ing is we have spent some real time build­ing re­la­tion­ships that are not just trans­ac­tional re­la­tion­ships, but real re­la­tion­ships, with other groups in town,” Ferg­er­son said, speak­ing to some of the com­mit­tee’s com­mu­nity rein­vest­ment projects. “I think it’s im­por­tant that we’re sup­port­ing those voices that are al­ready there and al­ready try­ing to do the work rather than make it some­thing on our own. We’re much bet­ter po­si­tioned to part­ner and col­lab­o­rate to do what we can to sup­port the peo­ple, that this is their fo­cus. I think if Pride or­ga­ni­za­tions come in and usurp and take it over, I think that is vi­o­lent and not help­ful.”

Ferg­er­son said the Pride com­mit­tee looks to bring re­sis­tance to the front of the pa­rade this year with a rel­e­vant tagline.

“We are a big and com­plex com­mu­nity and we ab­so­lutely need to keep so­cial jus­tice the core of our move­ment, and I think we need a safe space to cel­e­brate,” Ferg­er­son said. “Pride, if we’re do­ing it well, can be both of those things.”

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