From Stonewall to 2014
Today marks the eve of the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall rebellion and riots. Forty-five years ago, LGBTQ people in New York City, led by trans women of color like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, stood up to demand an end to the violence enforced on them by the government, the police, and society. They fought back to demand and lay claim to their freedom to unapologetically exist in their bodies, genders, and sexualities.
For many, Stonewall marks the beginning of PRIDE season and a celebration of the great cultural and political headway we have made over the years, but for queer liberation organizations like SONG, the commemoration is also an opportunity to come together to reclaim the spirit and legacy of hundreds of trans women of color, sex workers, and young LGBTQ people who put their bodies on the line to interrupt the active policing, jailing, and violence targeted towards them.
“We were not taking any more of this shit.
We had done so much for other movements. It was time.”
See more from an interview with Sylvia Rivera at
For SONG, Stonewall is an annual touchstone that reminds us of the vision we are committed to making happen every day. We celebrate the victories that we’ve had in what many are calling the pinnacle of social, cultural and political acceptance by larger society, but we know that not all of our people are benefiting from those changes. We see evidence of this from the countless unsolved murders of black queer and trans people and the most recent report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs that further documents, “the multi-year trend of transgender women, undocumented people, transgender people, people of color, and gay men face the most severe violence.” In our communities we know that trans people of color and trans immigrants face sky-high rates of poverty, violence, isolation, incarceration, detention, and deportations along with the daily indignities of a criminalized existence in our cities and towns.
Like those who have come before us, we continue to work in cities and towns across the South to name what our communities are facing and to stand up to fight back for an end to the violence and incarceration of our people. We do this through our work with the #Not1More Deportation Campaign to unearth the real conditions facing undocumented LGBTQ people, especially trans people facing unprecedented levels of solitary confinement in detention, and with our local campaigns to demand an end to criminalization of LGBTQ people, people of color, and young people. We face great obstacles, but we ground ourselves in the successes, challenges, and the lessons of our elders and ancestors and look to their political legacy to both remember and find our way forward as a movement that is committed to the liberation of all people.
Please join us today as we stand in love and unity with the 10th Annual Trans Day of Action, led by TransJustice of the Audre Lorde Project, which reminds us all of the importance of the leadership, vision, and work, both past and present, of trans people of color connecting the threads of our lives from the policing and jailing of our bodies to the control of our movement and behavior to the daily violence both on the streets here and around the world (Read more about the TDA Points of Unity here). Now more than ever we must unite to both celebrate our history of resilience, resistance, and revolution and to answer the spiritual and political imperatives of our time.
For Zoraida Reyes, Melenie Eleneke, and all the black and brown
trans liberation fighters we have lost.
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We had a glorious, debaucherous and restorative time at Gaycation, our biggest membership gathering of the year in South Georgia earlier this month. In many ways Gaycation 2014 exemplified what is so precious and special about SONG and our membership. Day in and day out we deal with racism, violence, transphobia and homophobia, exile and isolation, but we know that our lives are so much more than that. Gaycation is the place we gather to see ourselves reflected in each other, rest, recharge and TWERK in celebration of the wholeness of our lives. With over 100 people attending, a regional membership meeting, canoe trips, poolside twerking, overly-friendly raccoons, an elders’ circle, a commemorative electric slide, delicious meals, and lots of time to catch up with one another, we could not have asked for a better time.
As a political and cultural organization working to transform the South through campaigns and projects to take on some of the most pressing issues of our times, we believe that gatherings like Gaycation are crucial to building a Southern Kinship Network, a membership base of LGBTQ people linked together through relationships, shared vision and shared commitment to Queer Liberation. If you weren’t able to join us this year we hope to see you next summer! Together with political and cultural tools, skills, and resources we will transform our region county by county, town by town, and city by city.