Pride Began as a Police Protest

Pride Month grew out of the LGBTQ+ community’s frustration, pain, and anger over police raids and brutality. It began as a protest and was followed by the Stonewall Riots. Latinx transgender activist Sylvia Rivera, along with trans and gender diverse Black folks such as Marsha P. Johnson, were at the forefront of the movement.


Pictured: Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, Marsha P. Johnson, Zazu Nova, and Stormé DeLarverie. Original painting of Stormé DeLarverie, by Seattle artist Hayley McKie.


A half-century later, the LGBTQ+ community has made dramatic strides in claiming equal rights. In fact, last week, the Supreme Court ruled to protect LGBTQ+ workers from being fired based on sex, a decision grounded in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which passed because of decades of Black organizing and protests. Legal Voice is also at the forefront of another fight for equality as co-counsel on the nationally publicized female trans athlete ban — which unjustly targets all female athletes, putting them at risk of possible harm. Read more about the case here.

The continued journey toward a lived equity in the LGBTQ+ community intersected with the Black Lives Matter movement long before “BLM” was coined. There has always been robust conversation surrounding police presence at Pride festivals, and with recent video footage of unnecessary brutality and murder by police, the American public can now see why. George Floyd’s murder by a white police officer may have sparked the protest; however, centuries of evidence back that Black people have been disproportionately impacted by police violence, disproportionately incarcerated, and — alongside the LGBTQ+ community — made to jump through unconscionable hoops to gain access to the freedoms and resources we all need to thrive.

There is a resounding need for deep, structural change as well as personal reflection and evolution.

Across the country, there has been a call to redirect finances from police departments and reallocate it to community programs. This has already been successfully passed in Minneapolis, where the Council voted to replace the police with a community-led model. More work remains in order to accomplish a lived equity for all marginalized communities. Legal Voice will continue to center and amplify the leadership of those being impacted.

There will not be a one-size-fits-all solution in the revolution for equality, for a future in which all of us thrive. While community action holds public and government structures accountable to revitalize, rethink, and rebuild entire systems — we are also called upon to make individual changes. We are called to take stock of how we ourselves uphold these systems of oppression, and of how we are often participants — unconscious or unwilling — through our inaction, our silence, and our complicity.

We can imagine a safer place for all communities to live, work, and thrive with community-based approaches to law enforcement. A system in which:

  • Social workers, equipped with hotel vouchers and financial assistance, respond to a domestic violence survivor.

  • Support and wrap-around services are available, so people like John T. Williams who was facing housing insecurity, don’t end up a victim of death by police.

  • Trans community members are seen in their full humanity, rather than being harassed and held in jail among inmates of the wrong gender, like Joan Fochs.

Legal Voice knows that our journey toward a lived equality goes beyond the Stonewall Riots, beyond the mother’s cry for justice for George Floyd and Black Lives. We will continue to do our heart work as an organization, so that we may show up in more meaningful ways, amplify the voices of those telling these important stories, and bring our best efforts to groundbreaking litigation that continues to advance our journey toward justice.