//Porsha DeMarco-Douglas stands on the steps of the Colorado State Capital Building on June 14 during the Denver Pride Liberation March. Photos by Esteban Fernandez | firstname.lastname@example.org
The alliance between the LGBTQ+ and black community was on full display at the Pride Liberation March in Denver on June 14.
The bond between the two minority groups can be traced back to the inception of the pride movement. Marsha P. Johnson, queer activist, touched off the Stonewall Riots in June 1969 by throwing a brick through the window of a cop car. It was her memory that activists evoked repeatedly at Sunday’s Pride Liberation March in Denver.
“If one of us isn’t free none of us are free. Don’t forget, Pride started as a riot, lead by Queer women of color,” said State Rep. Leslie Herod, the first Black LGBTQ+ person elected into office in Colorado.
The event was a collaboration between the Denver Dyke Rally and Black Lives Matter 5280. Both organizations share the common goal of liberation, which they imbued the march with as a whole.
In former years, Pride month would be marked by parades, drag shows and countless other events. This year, most events have been moved online in the name of public safety due to the pandemic.
Despite this fear, protests following the death of George Floyd erupted in Denver on the night of May 28. The first few days of protests were punctuated by somewhat violent riots during the nights. Now, with less police presence and more organization, the demonstrations have remained widely peaceful as they have continued across the city.
It is this coalescence that brought crowds out despite the continued fear of COVID-19.
“There will ultimately be a cure for COVID but this is the cure for a lack of liberation,” said marcher Matthew H.
These realities and events led to an afternoon of intersectionality marked by high attendance.
“I hope today’s march achieves a sense of community between the LGBTQ+ community and black lives. They held space for us to have our revolution. The least we can do is hold space for them in a time like this,” said Onyx Steel, the Safety and March Marshal of the event.
Not only were the two causes aligned in the goal for liberation but also in how to accomplish it.
“The time has come for us to stop being silent and to speak up,” said Tyrell Rae, also known as drag artist Miss Zarah.
Organizer Kia designed the march to start at Cheesman park with the feeling of a Pride event. Various members of the community spoke, such as RTD Board Member Shontel M. Lewis, a group of sex workers, and Colorado’s first transgender lawmaker State Rep. Brianna Titone.
The crowd marched down Colfax, chanting “silence is not golden” and “black trans lives matter,” in a call to action after the recent deaths of two black trans women in other parts of the country. Riah Milton, from Ohio, was killed during a robbery on June 9. Dominique “Rem’Mie” Fells, from Pennsylvania, was found dead on June 8. Her death was ruled a homicide, but the Philidelphia police investigation is ongoing.
At the Capitol building, the focus shifted toward race. Members of the Choctaw Nation performed a “Blessing of the Four Directions” before several individuals aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement spoke about the complicated nature of intersectionality in America.
“I want to see all the community come out and support our black kings and queens. The only reason we have rights is because Marsha P. threw a brick through a cop’s car,” said Alex Johnson, an organizer with The Q Crew and bartender at Denver’s lesbian bar Blush and Blue.
Despite invoking the same anger that ignited riots over police brutality and the Pride movement, Sunday’s march ended with a quiet sunset on the Capitol steps and a candlelit vigil for those lost.