June is LGBTQ Pride Month in recognition of the historic moment when our LGBTQ sisters and brothers stood up, fought back, and said they would no longer accept second-class status to heterosexuals. We owe much to these early activists. June 27, 1969 was a watershed moment in the life of the LGBTQ equality movement. That night the NYC police force raided a Greenwich Village gay bar, the Stonewall Inn. Such raids were not unusual in 1969; in fact, they were conducted regularly without much resistance. However, that night the street erupted into protest as the crowd in the bar fought back.
Activists drew a line in the sand that summer night in 1969. In a similar way, Occupy also drew a line in the sand about corporate sovereignty over modern life when we occupied Zuccotti Park on September 17, 2011.
Visit Occupy Denver’s Booth (June 16 & 17). Our booth is located at A-12. Section A is highlighted on this map. You may download a complete schedule of events on the foldout map provided by The Center.
March with Occupy Denver in the Pride Parade (June 17). Occupy Denver’s float building team will be assembling at 7:30 a.m. in Cheesman Park. We are in the Blue section, position 8 (find the blue balloons). If you plan to march with us, you need to be in position with us by 9:00 a.m. for the 9:30 a.m. departure.
***UPDATE**** Pink Bloc Imminent!
We are encouraging occupiers to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community by forming a ”Pink Bloc.”
Join with Occupy Denver. Occupy Denver General Assemblies meet on Tuesday nights at 7:00 p.m. in Lincoln Park. If you’d like some help getting involved, please fill out our interest form. You may also join Occupy Denver’s OccuPride Facebook Page.
Denver’s Proud History of LGBTQ Activism and Beyond
In 1972, Denver’s LGBTQ community fought the police and City Hall protesting Vice Squad round-ups of gay men and harassment of the gay and lesbian community—and won! Attorney Gerald Gerash, one of the founding fathers of Denver’s LGBTQ community, spoke at a recent Occupy Denver teach-in about this important history. The sacrifice of activists like Gerash laid the foundation for several stunning landmark victories like Romer v. Evans, a 1990 Colorado case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court. This case was cited 7 times in support by Judge Vaughn Walker in his right-to-marry ruling striking down Proposition 8.
LGBTQ activism continued into the 1980’s with ACT UP: “that a despised group of people with no rights or representation, who were abandoned by their government, families, and society, facing a terminal illness, bonded together against great odds and forced this culture–against its will–to change its behavior towards people with AIDS, thereby saving each other’s lives.” (1) Sarah Schulman writes, “To do this ACT UP had to identify what needed to be changed, identify the individuals who were obstructing that change, clearly propose courses of action that were doable and justifiable, and then force the people with power–through the tactic of direct action–to do something different than what they wanted to do. Making people accountable is always in the interest of justice.” (2)
It was in the spirit of ACT UP that Occupy Denver recently conducted a series of direct actions to challenge the corporate interests driving Denver’s “Urban Camping” Ban that criminalized homelessness. We did so understanding that 40% of homeless youth in the United States are LGBTQ. This ordinance will drive homeless youth into the shadows and put them at further risk of harm. We acted up.
On the same day that the Denver City Council criminalized the survival act of sleeping by LGBTQ youth, Colorado House Republicans used a series of political maneuvers to kill the Civil Unions Bill.
We need to act up together. There is much work ahead.
As we march in a PrideFest awash with corporate sponsorship, let’s remember the early days of the LGBTQ movement–the days before the community had access to corporate-funded foundation money (3). If you’re inspired, we invite you to march with us, visit our booth and join with Occupy Denver.
P.S. How is the LGBTQ community impacted by economic injustice? Check out Tidal Wave: LGBT Poverty & Hardship in a Time of Economic Crisis (pdf) by Queers for Economic Justice, an LGBTQ organization dedicated to working for economic justice.
PrideFest is an Occupy Denver GA approved event. This announcement comes from the OccuPride working group of the Outreach Committee.
(1) Schulman, Sarah. The Gentrificaiton of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination. University of California Press, 2012, pg. 156.
(2) Schulman, pg. 52-53.
(3) INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence. The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex. South End Press, 2007.