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Activisim Events Latest

The Stonewall Protests are Here to Abolish the System

ACTIVISM

The Stonewall Protests:

Liberation Extravaganza

On Thursday, September 24, 2020, a group of activists gathered at The Stonewall Inn to fight for all Black life, Breonna Taylor, and abolition of the system.

sidewalkkilla

Every Thursday, a group of activists, headlined by Joel Rivera and Qween Jean, gather at the iconic Stonewall Inn, part of a series of protests under the rubric The Stonewall Protests, organized by “Black Queer and Black Trans Activists centered on the Acknowledgment of All Black Life.” On Thursday, September 24, just a day after Kentucky’s grand jury decision not to charge cops involved in Breonna Taylor’s fatal shooting, The Stonewall Protests held a ballroom-themed protest called Liberation Extravaganza. 

Before taking to the streets, Qween Jean addressed the news about Breonna’s case,

“They [the grand jury] did not bring justice to Breyonna Taylor, her family, our family. There was no justice! And for that, we are gonna get justice today.”

Joel Rivera explained that the reason for the Liberation Extravaganza theme was the arrest of 86 peaceful protesters in Times Square on Saturday, September 19:

“We witnessed that protesters are not even allowed to step onto the streets without being arrested and so we said, no matter what happens on Thursday, we are going to look our best. And we are going to walk into a battle looking our best, because that is a legacy of Black queer and Black trans people, the Black queer and Black trans people that were here on the same street fighting for liberation, fighting for Black Lives Matter before the movement was founded. We call this The Stonewall Protests, because The Stonewall Inn forgot that history. But we are here to remind them of the legacy of The Stonewall riots. It’s 2020, we are at The Stonewall Protests, fighting for the same thing our ancestors died for. So this is not a threat, it is a promise, if I am not allowed to march on this street today, there will be a Stonewall riot part two…”

The movement’s slogan is “Abolition is Liberation.” Joel explains,

“When we scream ‘No justice, no peace’ what do we mean? Because Breonna Taylor, the black life that really initiated the Black Lives Matter movement over this summer, got no justice. And I can’t sit here and say I’m surprised, because Black people do not get justice under this system. We can vote in November, but my problem will be the same in December. Because no matter who runs for office, no matter if you know who runs for office, no matter if you know that person is a great person, the system will destroy them. Because that’s what the system was made for – to destroy Black people. We need to be in these streets chanting ‘Abolition Now,’ because that is the only way I will get true liberation, that is the only way we will all get true liberation. Tear down the system and forge a new one that is for all people, not just white men…”

Join Joel Rivera, Qween Jean, Iman Le Caire, Alana Jessica and many more every Thursday at The Stonewall Inn, to fight for all Black life and abolition of the system.

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Alexey Kim

Founder

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Events Latest

NYC’s Biggest Drag Festival Sort of Just Happened in Spite of Corona

EVENTS

Bushwig 2020:

Corona Edition

One of the world’s biggest drag performance festivals, just kind of happened on Saturday, October 3, in spite of coronavirus.

sidewalkkilla

Bushwig, one of the world’s biggest drag performance festivals, originating in Brooklyn in 2011, just kind of happened on Saturday, October 3, in spite of coronavirus. The official three days of the festival that usually happen at Brooklyn’s Knockdown Center around this time of the year, were scrapped just a couple of months ago, when the prospects of opening up New York spaces that could accommodate large crowds were slim to none.

The social-distancing event happened over the course of a Saturday evening in Maria Hernandez Park in Brooklyn. The official Bushwig IG page posted a flyer about the event just a few days before it happened, giving unusually short notice to the festival’s fans. The post advised everyone to wear a mask and a wig, and to keep 6 feet apart. Instead of the usual 300+ performers that would have been scheduled over the course of the three days at the Knockdown Center, only 12 performer names were featured on the flyer. Amongst the night’s slated performers were Bushwig’s old-timer Charlene, Ms. Bushwig 2018 Chiquitita (née Harajuku and then Juku), Sasha Velour’s NightGowns show’s regular Neon Calypso, the self-proclaimed mother of Brooklyn drag, Merrie Cherry, and Bushwig’s co-founder Horrorchata herself.

Horrorchata

The crowd warmed up with the DJ set from Babes Trust, the second co-founder of the festival, who eventually came out onstage to start off the shows and tell everyone that the idea to throw the event was very last minute, and that all of the proceeds would go to the performers and the Bushwig organization team “to survive and strive.” The evening’s shows were split in two parts with a 10-minute intermission. Lady Quesa’Dilla opened and MC’d the first part of the evening, with Rify Royalty and drag king Myster E Mel Kiki following right after. Chiquitita, formerly Juku, debuted her new stage name to Sade’s “Is It A Crime,” sensuously embodying her womanhood in front of the large crowd; Neon Calypso followed up with poem “Capitalism” by Porsha Olayiwola, a 2014 Individual World Poetry Champion, breaking into “Bitch Better Have My Money” with her signature flips and splits; Merrie Cherry and Horrorchata closed out the first half of the performances with a joyous duet.

Charlene

Chiquitita

Zavaleta

Merrie Cherry took over the MC duties for the second half of the evening and attempted to thank the NYPD for not kicking everyone out of the park. Most of the crowd booed and several people screamed out, “Fuck NYPD!” To which Merrie Cherry conceded and said that she was just grateful that everyone could come together and celebrate Bushwig.

The larger-than-life Dragon Sisters opened up the second act with a bang, while the multi-talented opera singing aerialist Marcy Richardson showered them with a thick stash of dollar bills; Charlene followed up with a fierce hairography thanks to her signature portable fan, her unruly bosom continually popping out of her deeply V-necked ensemble; Zavaleta kicked off her heels, one of which managed to hit someone in the crowd in the head, at the start of her performance and then cried bloody tears through plastic tubes attached to a pump; Miz Jade introduced everyone to a “Toxic” X “WAP” mashup; the last two performances belonged to Magenta and then Horrorchata’s duet with Charlene.

The night wrapped up with an iconic photo op of all the Brooklyn-based performers in attendance and a DJ set by mrjpatt. The organizers of the event are already setting their eyes on next year. In Bushwig’s most recent IG post, part of the comment reads, “See you September 11th & 12th 2021 at @knockdowncenter ~ Tickets on sale soon“. Here’s to hoping that things will go back to somewhat normal in the upcoming year and the Brooklyn LGBTQIA+ community will be able to celebrate with each other once again under the roof of the Knockdown Center.

Performers of Brooklyn

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Alexey Kim

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Categories
Latest Nightlife

Welcome to Garden of Love

NIGHTLIFE

Welcome To

Garden Of Love

Garden of Love Gitano hosts a bougie post-apocalyptic NYC drag brunch every Sunday.

sidewalkkilla

“I had to wake up

at 7 AM this morning

to get ready.”


Says NYC nightlife legend Amanda Lepore while sipping on a margarita during the weekly Gitano Garden of Love Sunday brunch party that she hosts with her drag daughter CT Hedden. “I’ve been invited to drag brunches before and I always said no, but right now there is nothing else to do.”

It’s not often that NYC nightlife creatures make it outside during the day dressed in their latest garb. But of course that’s not the craziest thing coronavirus has changed. “This is the only chic spot to be right now since Indochine is closed,” says nightlife persona and Amanda Lepore’s bestie CT Hedden, “so I told Amanda let’s do this party together.” CT doubles as a bartender in drag and is not a stranger to conceiving and hosting events in pre-COVID New York. It’s hard to call Garden of Love at Gitano a party though; it’s more of a brunch soirée, where you are only allowed to table-hop if the table’s host allows you to join them. Everyone has to wear a mask once you stand up from your chair. It’s strictly reservations only, where the doorman takes his job very seriously, “Six feet apart please, get in line!” Before entering the premises you are prompted to scan a QR code with your smartphone where you are asked a series of questions about your recent travels and if you were recently in contact with someone exposed to COVID-19. Once your temperature is taken and you’ve shown the filled-out waiver to the host, you are welcome into the Garden of Love. “Next they are going to start taking our DNA and blood samples,” one of the brunchers quipped while smoking outside. 

CT Hedden and Misty Copeland

Gitano’s sitting area transports you into Tulum, the original outpost of the company. “It doesn’t even feel like you are in the city during a pandemic,” says one of the first-time guests at CT’s table. Gitano is planning on staying open until late October and CT is hoping to continue Garden of Love as long as possible. Principal dancer with American Ballet Theater Misty Copeland and DJ Tommie Sunshine were in attendance during the second edition of the event. If you’d like to attend Garden of Love Sunday brunch, contact Gitano for table reservations. Check back every week for the photo libraries.

FULL COVERAGE

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Alexey Kim

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Categories
Activisim Events Latest

We Need to Talk About Belarus

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ACTIVISM

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Saturday, August 16, 2020. A few hundred people dressed in white and red colors assembled in front of the United Nations in New York City to show solidarity with Belarus in the light of currently unfolding events.

The long-term president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, often referred to as “Europe’s last dictator,” has rigged the recent election results in his own favor. Two of the main opponents to his 26-year dictatorial reign were jailed before the elections, and one was refused registration as a candidate by the Belarusian electoral commission. Just when Lukashenko thought he had the election in his pocket due to the lack of opponents, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the wife of a jailed blogger who was a presidential ticket hopeful, entered the race, vowing to pick up where her husband left off. While the failing economy and the lackluster response to the coronavirus pandemic by the government left Belarusian citizens yearning for change, unlikely candidate Tsikhanouskaya found major support and was expected to win the elections.

Tens of thousands of peaceful protesters took to the streets of Belarus just to be met with the brutal force of Belarusian greatly feared OMON (Special Purpose Mobile Unit). Almost 7,000 people have been jailed, mercilessly beaten, and tortured while in custody, at least 50 of them journalists. Meanwhile, in New York, a few people showed up to the UN demonstrations covered in fake blood to shine the spotlight on the horrifying human rights violations transpiring in Belarus at the present moment. One of the protesters described in horror how a female acquaintance of his in Belarus was held in custody for six hours on her knees, head on the floor with her hands handcuffed behind her back. Arrested protesters in Belarus are not allowed medical care, water, food or toilet privileges.

Right after the elections, Tsikhaunouskaya fled to Lithuania, citing pressure from Lukashenko’s regime as the reason for the escape. Eight people from her staff have been arrested over the weekend.

It’s difficult not to draw parallels between the current situation in Belarus with the widespread US Black Lives Matter protests and Trump’s attempt to keep his seat by threatening to postpone November elections and sabotaging the US Postal Service. Malfeasance in office is more common than not, even in developed countries. But it’s much easier to get away with abuse of power among economies in transition and in developing parts of the world. Lukashenko’s presidency, which has been riddled with a history of falsified elections, is a prime example. Trump’s internet censorship order and Lukashenko’s attempt to stop dissidence by pulling the plug on internet and mobile services across Belarus are telling facts that the fast-paced spread of information through modern communication methods can be a tyrant’s Achilles heel.

I want Lukashenko gone. His time is up. 26 years is enough. That’s an entire generation. I was born, he was a president, he’s still a president. He lost the election, he has to go and he has to pay the price for the atrocities he’s been committing. The people around him, the secret service/police that have been committing crimes should also pay the price, there should be a fair trial and those people should be held responsible, that’s what we are looking for,” says Pavel, one of the attendees at the New York rally, who is originally from Minsk, Belarus’ capital.

Amongst the sea of posters at the New York protest near the UN, one sign stood out with an understatedly written hashtag. Leo, an ex-Chechen citizen living under US asylum, wrote a message on a white placard that read “No One is Free Until We Are All Free,” with the hashtag #lgbtchechnya written in smaller letters just under the main message. “We are all from Soviet Union,” Leo said, teary eyed, “And today we see how hard it is to get freedom for all of us, and that means we all need to support one another. We can’t face this alone. We understand the people of Belarus very well, because the same thing has been happening in Chechnya for many years.That’s why they need to be supported today.

A recently released HBO documentary, Welcome to Chechnya by Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker David France, reminds us why the Chechen’s genocide of its LGBT community should be one of the world’s most urgent conversations.

Politics all over the world is more connected than it might seem at first glance. Just because things like this are happening across the pond, doesn’t mean that they should be ignored and not talked about, because if we are silent about oppression of others we may be the next ones in line with no one to support our own claim.

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Alexey Kim

Founder

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Activisim Ballroom Events Latest

Ball to Action: Ballroom-Styled Direct Action Event for #OccupyCityHall

Ball to Action:

Ballroom-Styled

Direct Action Event

for #OccupyCityHall

BALLROOM/ACTIVISM

The “Ball to Action: Mandating Visibility for Queer & Black Trans Lives” event was a part of the 24-hour protest led by the Abolition Park organization on Tuesday, July 28, at Pier I. The “ballroom-styled” direct-action event  invited the House/Ballroom community and Kiki Scene to speak out against the police and state violence that took place at #OccupyCityHall on July 22. One of the Ball’s organizers, Jonathan Lykes Garcon, was also one of the people who launched the #OccupyCityHall movement that successfully achieved the demand of defunding the police by $1 billion.

During the Ball’s opening speech, Jonathan shared that on the morning of July 22 at 3:45 a.m., police raided #OccupyCityHall, kicking out the protesters and getting rid of ≈$20K of merchandise by throwing it into the trash. Amongst the things destroyed by the cops at #OccupyCityHall were tables that were serving free food 24 hours a day, a people’s library, and a bodega. 

“Ball to Action” was cut short by the police presence. A few attendees received phone calls warning them about the police blocking access to Pier I. Rumors of the NYPD’s plans to arrest everyone in attendance spread like wildfire and people left the event shortly after. One of the attendees asked a cop if they were really going to arrest everyone in attendance, to which the officer replied that after the pier’s closure at 1 a.m. people might get citations.

Two contestants from HBO’s Legendary TV show, Shy Ebony from the House of Ebony and Zay Lanvin from the season’s runner-up House of Lanvin, attended the Ball among many other participants.

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Alexey Kim

Founder

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Editorial Latest

J’royce Jata: “Soft” EP First Listen

EDITORIAL

J’royce Jata: Soft EP

 “The reason I called it Soft is because Black men do not get the opportunity to show our many facets, as much as our counterparts.”

sidewalkkilla

Today on July 28, 2020, Brooklyn-based queer performance artist and musician J’royce Jata is celebrating his 26th birthday and simultaneously releasing his first EP titled Soft. Take the first listen and find out about the inspiration behind the EP below.

J’royce Jata was born in Jacksonville, FL. He enrolled in Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, a magnet high school that first opened in 1922 as a primary school specifically for African-American students. By the age of 18 J’royce moved out of his hometown to New York City, where he was accepted at Joffrey Ballet School on a full scholarship. At 20 J’royce booked his first national touring production of Memphis, with Fame and Dirty Dancing national tours following up over the next few years. By the end of his last tour with Dirty Dancing in 2019, J’royce found the politics of the industry to be emotionally taxing and moved to Rochester to dance with Garth Fagan Dance, the company responsible for the Lion King Broadway musical. After a brief moment at Fagan’s dance company, J’royce moved to Boston to do the show based on true events The View UpStairs at SpeakEasy Stage. In the story, a Black gay fashion designer purchases an abandoned floor of a building in New Orleans and converts it into a gay bar, naming it UpStairs Lounge. Fire engulfed the bar, the result of an arson attack, on June 24, 1973, going down in history as the deadliest attack on a gay bar, until the 2016 shooting at Orlando gay nightclub Pulse, where 49 people lost their lives. The show received lukewarm reviews from the critics and J’royce found himself back in New York City, ready to concentrate on his own artistry.

J’royce started writing his own music during his involvement with the national tour of the musical Fame. He states that even though he enjoyed being a part of such iconic productions, he was itching to do something for himself. “I was tired of basic energy,” he says, “There are a lot of femme queer energies out there, but I haven’t seen many Black male-identifying queer energies. I thought that if I started writing my own stuff, I could help somebody else out that didn’t have someone similar to them that they can look up to.” When J’royce started putting out his music in 2016, it didn’t get the recognition that he was hoping for. “I got over the idea of making art for acknowledgment. Half the time it’s never what you think it will be. If you do something and not expect anything in return, it will ring more truth to it.”

It was obviously a deliberate choice to release his first EP Soft on the same day as his birthday. “On the day of my 20th birthday, I was literally sitting in a yellow cab, seeing Manhattan for the first time, so it happens every year my birthday coincides with some other significant event.” The 6-song EP is entirely produced by Arashi Supanova. “The reason I called it Soft is because Black men do not get the opportunity to show our many facets, as much as our counterparts. We are always assumed or deemed as strong forces, which we are, but there is also strength in softness. And this EP shows that. This is my direct combat to toxic masculinity within the Black community. There are so many intricate layers to this: Black men get killed by the cops, Black trans women get killed by Black men, and it’s all a direct result of the way that we are raised in a society where toxic masculinity rules everything. A lot of the times we as Black men don’t get to talk about the emotional part of our lives, and as hype and sunny as I can be, I’m only that way because I’ve taken time to work through my emotions. I don’t give a shit about impressing anyone, I do it to heal myself. This album was a form of therapy.”

Soft Tracks Broken Down:

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OMG

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Mantra

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Meditation

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Ebó

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Zombie Zaddy

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Very That

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OMG

I wrote that because I was thinking about navigating nightlife in New York. “You get in where you fit in, then you figure it out, gain the world, lose your soul searching for clout,” I wanted to be as honest as possible but nobody is being super honest. It’s a callout to yourself, whatever that means for you. “There’s a lot of other bullshit but are u really feeling it?” I ask in the song. The basic point of it is, let’s get down to the joy of it, not shadiness, let’s just get it and feel good. 


Mantra

This song helped me get out of seasonal depression. My daddy is a mental health practitioner, mom is an educator. We weren’t allowed to say I’m depressed, or things like “retarded”, that’s how I grew up. The message is, you can talk yourself into shit and out of it. “Mantra” helped me get out of a rut when I was moving from sublet to sublet, fired from two-day jobs. It was a scary time, I didn’t know what to do. “Every little thing is gonna be alright, I don’t have to cry all night,” I would sing that shit over and over again. It’s a testament to being a warrior for yourself and people around you. I have four roommates and everyone just knows that one song. “Everything is gonna be alright.” Why not get this song stuck in your head that’s gonna help you?

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Meditation

My very first single and my very first music video that I released this year. I wrote it 3 years ago on a tour bus during my time at Fame. A lot of my work comes from a stream of consciousness. I have a gift of channeling, a lot of times things just come to me and I try to be open to that. I try to articulate as much as possible when it comes to me. “Growth, clarity, popularity, I got great friends but I still need therapy.” It was a prayer to everyone who identifies with me. I knew I had to be as grounded as possible if I wanted to fly.


Ebó

Means “sacrifice” in Yoruba, the West African language and religion. People tend to put you on a pedestal, but we all still shit on a toilet. “I think I’m a human sometimes, so why do people act like they’ve never seen a nigga with wings? Have you never seen a fab person? Some call it a myth, I call it a king.” You can be fantasized about in the queer community and a lot of things are sexualized. Part of it has to do with taboos. We just got freedoms as a community in general. That being said, it can get taxing when you are fetishized or idolized. Yeah we are very special [Black men] but respect that. Sometimes we don’t even know when it’s a toxic fetish topic, so that’s why I have chosen not to be in a relationship since age 21. All we want is to be cuddled up but I’m way too sensitive to be fucked with. I don’t believe that I’m the greatest thing on Earth, but I’m one of them. I refuse to put myself in situations that are not gonna benefit me. Being someone that always thinks about someone else, I think it’s good to think of ourselves as well. So this song is about that.

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Zombie Zaddy

This is my second single from Soft, with the music video coming out on August 3. Originally it was a callout to the girls on Grindr. It’s about toxic sexualization. I can’t even have a conversation sometimes with guys. I can’t even look them in the eye because they don’t know how to do that, because we are used to relationships over text messages. Sometimes I’ll download an app again and two minutes later I’m over it. This song is kind of a war cry. I’m not condemning or judging anyone with this song, I’m just observing what I experience. There are a lot of zombie boys walking around. I think it’s something that needs to be brought to the forefront of people’s minds – if we get our personal shit together, even though sometimes it’s weighted, it’s also about simple awareness. “Rebel, they are ringing bells, it feels like hell, but oh well. The sirens wailing it’s all up in my head, we keep waiting the earth go dead.


Very That

Not a diss track but not not a diss track. I deal with BS because I care about folks. A lot of times when you show compassion, people try to get one over on you. Just because you can be sweet, doesn’t mean you can’t be sour. I can also be very stern. When folks try to do something that I don’t want to be done to me, I stop them. Period. I don’t have to be rude, I just have to stay true. In the chorus I sing, “No fake bitches by my side.” Being out here you have to take care of yourself. If you feel the type of way, it’s very that. Do what you have to do. I wrote it as a protection spell and also as a warning. “It’s very that, I’ts very that, It’s very that, if you fuck with me I’ma fuck you right back.”

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Alexey Kim

Founder

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EDITORIALS

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Categories
Events Latest Pride

Amsterdam Pride Walk: Walking For Those Who Cannot Join

ACTIVISM/PRIDE

Amsterdam

Pride Walk 2019

The annual Amsterdam Pride Walk has been cancelled due to coronavirus in 2020, but it still serves as a good reminder of why Pride marches started happening in the first place.

sidewalkkilla

Every year,

Pride Amsterdam

is opened by the Pride Walk.


It follows the route between Homomonument – a memorial in the centre of Amsterdam that commemorates all gay men and lesbians who have been subjected to persecution because of their homosexuality – and Westerpark, taking about an hour to complete. An estimated 15,000 people participated in the 1.8 kilometer (1.118 mile) walk in 2019. 

Pride Walk in Amsterdam is more of a demonstration for equal rights, therefore making it different from some other Pride parades such as those in the US, where it seems that the celebration of freedom and diversity has become the foremost purpose. People who participate in the Pride Walk are marching for those who cannot or do not have an opportunity to march for their own rights, mostly because of the oppressive regimes of their native countries. Did you know that there are 72 jurisdictions in the world where being gay is illegal, 11 of which punish homosexuality by death? One of them being Uzbekistan, a neighbor country to Kazakhstan, where I was born. All of the countries where homosexuality is punishable by death operate under sharia law. 

The Amsterdam Pride Walk was helmed by a dozen bikers, followed by a solitary man carrying a memorial photo of Yelena Grigoryeva, who was killed just days before the march near her home in St. Petersburg, Russia. Yelena was a prominent figure in protesting the widespread animosity towards nontraditional sexuality in Russia, earning her a spot in a terrifying website called “Pila” (Saw), where personal information like addresses, phone numbers, and names of LGBTQ activists were being leaked and people were encouraged to kill them off. Even though the website was taken down, the damage was already done. Russian police claim that Yelena’s death was a domestic dispute, refusing to treat the case as a hate crime; all of her earlier reports about fearing for her life due to the many death threats she received were ignored by the authorities in the past.

After the lone man carrying Grigoryeva’s memorial, 74 people followed holding the 74 flags of countries where homosexuality – at that time – was either criminalized or, where there are no laws against homosexual acts but there are repressive laws against “homosexuality propaganda,” like in Russia. Back in 2016 Huff Post wrote about Russian Neo-Nazis “allegedly luring and torturing gay teens with online dating scams,” while in reality, Maksim Martsinkevitch, the originator of the movement called Occupy Pedophilia, might have started operating as early as 2010 and not allegedly so, but very much so. Maksim and a group of other men would scam gay men and teenagers into meeting them through a gay website, only to beat, humiliate, and torture them, while recording the whole ordeal and posting it online for everyone to see. Maksim has appeared on major TV shows talking about his movement, equating homosexuality to pedophilia and garnering support of many in the local community as well as the local authorities who would turn a blind eye to his actions. Maksim’s YouTube channel currently has over 40K subscribers.

There have been many reported cases of missing persons in the Chechen Republic, a part of the Russian Federation: forced abductions, torture, and imprisonment by authorities of men based on their “perceived” sexual orientation. Up to 100 men have been reported missing, while an unknown number of men have been reported dead after being held by the authorities on suspicion of being gay or bisexual.

It seems that the organizers of arguably the biggest Pride celebration in Amsterdam, Canal Parade, pay very keen attention to who they let float their boats down the canals. Only 80 boats were selected to float in 2019, and the companies that participated went through rigorous investigation of their HR sectors. Basically, let’s see the receipts of what you really do for our community. Very different from the “If you pay, you can be gay” approach adopted by the NYC Pride

In June of 2019 NYC celebrated the first WorldPride on the American turf, while simultaneously celebrating the 50th anniversary of Stonewall Uprising. The same month The NY Times has published an article about a brewing boycott over Pride celebrations. In the article, Bill Dobbs of the Reclaim Pride Coalition who was responsible for organizing the alternative march, claimed that NYC Pride “allows corporate sponsors to ‘pinkwash’ their images as gay-friendly organizations with progressive principles.” Bill’s side argued that the parade should be more of a protest instead of the over-the-top show that Pride has become. Reclaim Pride Coalition has also expressed that they would like minimum involvement from the police, calling the N.Y.P.D. commissioner James P. O’Neill’s apology for the Stonewall raids “empty.” Ouch.

On the other side, Cathy Renna, a spokesperson for Heritage of Pride (that does business as NYC Pride), said that corporate sponsorship is a step in the right direction, as it shows how far our community has come, garnering such mainstream support. The organization allowed the N.Y.P.D. to walk in the parade, claiming that this was a step towards improving relationship with the police. None of the parties involved in the argument would have a slightest idea that in 2020, Pride in NYC would shift its focus back to its protesting roots, making it very similar to Pride Walk in Amsterdam.

If there is anything I’ve learned by exploring LGBTQIA+ cultures around the world, it’s that we might seem divided, but we are all still in the same boat. It’s disheartening to read about instances of the community turning on each other, like in an article written by an LGBTQIA+ and women’s rights activist Phaylen Fairchild, that explores the complicated relationship between gay men and transgender people.  It’s absurd to think that instead of uplifting each other every step of the way, we can be argumentative and downright hateful towards each other. As an LGBTQIA+ community, we must work as one and find peace within our own culture before trying to figure out how to achieve global acceptance.

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Alexey Kim

Founder

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Categories
Activisim Events Latest Pride

This Is The Future Queer Liberation Protesters Are Fighting For

ACTIVISM/PRIDE

NYC Queer Liberation March 2020

“It’s 2020, and we are still dealing with issues that we’ve been dealing with for hundreds of years. It’s ridiculous. This needs to end now.”

sidewalkkilla

On June 28, instead of celebrating the annual Pride Parade in the usual way – with barricaded streets, company-sponsored floats, and police convoys – the people of New York took to the streets to protest police brutality and walk for Black and Black Trans Lives.

Sidewalkkilla was commissioned by BuzzFeed LGBTQ to interview NYC’s Queer Liberation March protesters on their hopes for the future. Find out what brings people out on the streets day after day.

Special thanks to Angel OrtÍz-Perreira for assisting with the project.

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Katie Rose Summerfield

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Bones Jones

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Daniel Nieto

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Rollerena

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J. Alexander

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Gabriella Rosa Morales

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Ty Sunderland

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Glow Job

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Terence, Samy, Luis

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Iman Le Caire

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Cory Walker

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Justin, Onika, Emilie, Spencer, Luke, Jordan

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Angel Ortíz-Perreira

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Jonas Bardin

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Andy Jean

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Steven the Neptunite

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Sugar B.

& Jen Cinclair

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Madelyn Keith &

Graham D’Craquer

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Xander Gaines

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Joel Riviera

@ohmykatierose

Katie Rose Summerfield

What brings you out here today?

I am an artist and a human in the world who cares about the humanity of all people. I think it’s essential that we show up for our brothers and sisters who have not been treated with any fairness, kindness, justice, or humanity for hundreds of years. And it’s time that we all be accomplices in the fight for abolition of white supremacy, racism, the police brutality and inequality across everything.

What are your hopes for the future?

My hopes for the future are that everybody in the world, everybody in America, feels safe to live in the body as they are, to be exactly who they are, to be loved tirelessly and fearlessly, and for everyone to feel safe.

@xo.bones

Bones Jones

What brings you out here today?

I am here today at the Queer Liberation March to liberate humanity, honestly. People of the LGBTQIA+ community are the backbone of how culture moves in this country. So I am here to support humanity in this outfit, have a good time, and support those who need support.

What are your hopes for the future?

My hope for the future is that all people have the same rights, the same opportunities, the same abilities. We’ve seen what happens year after year after year when it comes to these things. It gets us nowhere to just oppress one group of people, so my hope and my wish is that we all just get the equal rights, equal opportunities, and just live in peace. Celebrate in peace, love in peace, have sex in peace.

@daboy13

Daniel Nieto

What brings you out here today?

I am here to fight for freedom, equalities for everybody. Black lives matter, trans lives matter, gay lives matter.

What are your hopes for the future?

My hope for the future is for everyone to be treated equally, with respect, and to have equal freedom and opportunities in this country and everywhere else in the world.

Rollerena

What are your hopes for the future?

My hope for the future is the blue wave on election day, that everybody gets out there and votes. Votes with their conscience and gets this horrible regime out of office.

@daddyl0nglegs

J. Alexander (right)

What brings you out here today?

I’m here for Pride, I’m here for Black liberation. I’m here to take a stand with all the people that are here today.

What are your hopes for the future?

My hope is that when these people go home, they actually do work, and they educate themselves about decolonizing the mind; they have the hard conversation with their racist aunts. I hope that they speak up for people of color — especially Black people — in these safe white spaces. I hope that the work goes beyond the streets and that we see actual change.

Gabriella Rosa Morales

What brings you out here today?

I’m an Afro Latina, bisexual woman, and I’m tired of the bullshit that’s going on. Honestly, it’s time for change and this is what needs to be happening and nobody is listening to us, so we are going to make them listen. So we are going to keep fighting every day until they listen to us, until we get what we need.

What are your hopes for the future?

My hope for the future is that they defund the police, that they treat every citizen the way they need to be treated and that fucking capitalism changes. White supremacy needs to be out of this country. It’s 2020, and we are still dealing with issues that we’ve been dealing with for hundreds of years. It’s ridiculous. This needs to end now.

@ageofaquaria @theejessa @jimmypezzino @tysunderland

Ty Sunderland (right)

& friends

What brings you out here today?

We are marching here for our liberation. We are not free until our entire community is free. Right now we have to be out here marching for Black lives and Black trans lives.

What are your hopes for the future?

A future where we are all free, we are all safe, where we all have equal opportunity, equal rights, and equal access to resources.

@queenglowjob

Glow Job

What brings you out here today?

I am here today, because it’s the Queer Liberation March; it is Pride.

We need to show up; we need to show out. We need to be here for Black lives, for Black trans lives. This feels like, what I imagine maybe, the first Pride was like. It was a freaking protest; it was a riot. And so we are here to make a difference.

What are your hopes for the future?

I feel like things are actually changing for once. I think people are stopping to think… I think they have been disrupted from the system. I want the police to be defunded. I want Black trans people to be respected. I want joy to come back to everyone’s life. That’s why we’re here doing this.

@nysocialbee @sameforbrooklyn @hernameisluis

Terence, Samy

& Luis

What brings you out here today?

Terence: What brought me here today was trans rights, Black Lives Matter. An equality for all of us — we are marching together to be with all my sisters and brothers and nonbinary folks.

Luis: I am here with my friends and my community. This is our family. Until all of us are liberated, every single person in our community is liberated — trans, Black, queer, nonbinary, Latino people — the queer community will not stop until all of us are fully equal.

Samy: I’m here because this is the real Pride. It started 51 years ago with Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson — a riot against police brutality — and we are still criminalized and oppressed by the state and the police forces. So we need to continue organizing, running for office, voting, and getting engaged with our community to actually fight for change, including social justice and a [city] budget that really helps our community. So we are honoring that life and that spirit of resistance. This is what this march is — to bring that rioting spirit to actually fight for equal justice.

Terence: And the rights for sex workers, which we can’t forget, because the root people that led the riots and the march were Black and trans sex workers.

What are your hopes for the future?

Samy: Well, I really hope that we don’t have to fight against the state and discrimination, that we live in the society that honestly honors our lives, that we have full respect and we have full equality and justice. And that starts with the Equality Act, but we need so much more.

Legal marriage equality [happened], but that just got us the right to love. Now we need the right so we can walk in the streets without violence and being murdered, so the moment that no Black trans women are being killed in the streets, when people are not discriminated at work, when all the eradication of discrimination happens. That’s why we are truly here; that’s why we are marching. We are not only celebrating that we could march because of the history of our movement, but because there is so much work to be done.

Luis: And of course we hope that the city council of New York defunds the NYPD, defunds the military state in our city and starts funding the real needs of our communities, starts funding education, starts funding housing, starts funding healthcare for people in our community. Because that’s where we really want our tax dollars to be devoted to and not to police violence, not to state violence. I really hope that our state officials, our city and our local elected officials react and respond to the clamor that we are all expressing today.

Terence: My hope for the future is that I won’t have to be out on the streets saying “Trans Lives Matter”; I won’t have to be out on the streets saying “Black Lives Matter”; I won’t have to be on the streets saying “Black Trans Lives Matter.” It’s beautiful that we are saying those, but the reason that we are out here saying those is because we are continuously killed and there is no justice and we have to keep fighting and protesting. I’m hoping for the future that we no longer have to be out on the streets fighting against the state and state will side with us, and they will give us protection. So that Black trans girls will have protection, Black people will have protection, we want to fight against people that are killing us.

Samy: This is just the city’s Pride as Black Lives Matter rally, because the most important, impacted members of our LGBTQ community are the LGBTQ people of color: Black trans women, Latinx, undocumented queer immigrants. And it is a movement of solidarity. Fighting for racial justice is to fight for queer rights; fighting for queer rights is fighting for racial justice. So we are not only standing in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, we also have Black queer lives, we also have immigrant Latinx queer lives and people of color. So this is a movement of solidarity, but we are both because our struggles are very interconnected. That’s why this Pride, this Queer March is so powerful, because it combines the intersectional lives and identities that we all live and they have been oppressed for so long and this is the moment for liberation.

Luis: And at the end, us browns and Black people, we are also protesting against the mainstream LGBTQ community who has for so long discriminated against us, discriminated against our most vulnerable members. And we are saying today: This is the Pride that we want; this is the Pride that we celebrate and nothing from now on in the future will be less.

Terence: No more.

@imanlecaire

Iman Le Caire

What brings you out here today?

My hope for the future for the Black trans sisters and Black trans brothers, for all brown people and refugees to have jobs and to be walking the streets without getting hurt and killed. I’m tired of it. I’ve been harassed since being 8 years old and I’m sick of it.

What are your hopes for the future?

So I just want to be safe and have opportunities like everybody else. Is that too much to ask? No I don’t think so, so I hope for the future and especially for trans youth to have a better future than I ever had. Hopefully that’s going to happen. I feel optimistic for the future, especially now that we all came together. Hopefully something is going to happen.

And I feel Trump is going to go away.

@corywalkers

Cory Walker

What brings you out here today?

I am out here celebrating Black and brown trans lives and just witnessing a revolution.

It’s been a beautiful way to emerge back into the new world and to be in New York City is such a blessing. Because this is kind of where that kind of liberation began: going to Stonewall and just feeling that energy. I feel like the ancestors are really here. I’m taking it moment by moment; it’s really a lot to digest, but it’s everything we’ve been asking for, so. I think this is our time.

What are your hopes for the future?

Oh, so many. I would say for everyone, every being who enters this plane, this earth, this physical experience, to know that there is so much worthiness and rightness in their existence.

I would love for kids to be born knowing that there is a reason that they are here and that they have the power, that their evolution and their natural flow is going to look so specific for them and that’s beautiful. And I want the people who maybe didn’t have that, who are kind of learning that about themselves now, I want them to heal and be graceful knowing that they always did and survived the best way they knew how.

And for people to just have more empathy and compassion and to really see each other again more, maybe for the first time. We are all kind of seeing ourselves for the first time. I think we are all being initiated into ourselves. So, my hope for the future, my hope for now really, just to continue celebration.

@justinbshow @onikathatbitch @emkouatch @spencer_larue

@luke.mcdonough @jordnalexander

Justin, Onika, Emilie, Spencer, Luke, Jordan

Please, introduce yourself and tell us what brings you out here today.

All: I’m Justin. I’m Emilie. I’m Spencer. I’m Luke. Jordan. Onika.

Justin: Celebrating our Pride, celebrating identities and Black trans lives.

Spencer: Our identities, our brothers, our sisters, everybody in between who just wants to be themselves.

Justin: It’s been really cool. These last few weeks people have been really showing up for each other in a beautiful way, and I feel like I am responsible to be a part of that.

Jordan: Also standing up against police brutality that’s been going on in this country since literally we began and just saying enough is enough. We are done. It needs to be scrapped, and we need to rebuild.

Spencer: As much as COVID sucks, I feel like it’s been a wake-up call that America needs to motivate and take action against police brutality and everything that’s been happening negatively toward our country to move forward.

What are your hopes for the future?

Justin: That we can all just fucking love each other.

Jordan: Yeah, and be able to live without being afraid of literally being killed.

Spencer: Love each other.

Emilie: Respect each other too.

Spencer: Respect each other in a world that’s built out of love, respect and compassion, and not negativity.

@angel_ortizp

Angel Ortíz-Perreira

What brings you out here today?

I am out here today for Black Lives Matter and Black Trans Lives Matter.

What are your hopes for the future?

My hope for the future is for us to understand one another even whether we don’t agree with one another or not. I think finding that common ground of understanding and having those dialogues — that’s the future that we get to have. It really feels like there is an awakening happening in New York, in the world, in every major city. And it’s lovely to be out, even though today is limited in scope.

@jonasbardin

Jonas Bardin

What brings you out here today?

I am here today in support of, particularly, Black trans community as they continue to be marginalized and oppressed throughout this country. And I am here to also remind fellow white people, that this is the work that we need to be focusing on specifically in this moment.

And when we think of Pride, we need to be focalizing Black trans women specifically in our politics and in our minds when we are protesting moving forward.

What are your hopes for the future?

My hopes for the future are dismantling white supremacy and ending capitalism in this country. My hopes are that right now people can find a moment of peace and joy with their friends, maybe even just alone if they are alone today.

These are tumultuous times, but change is never something that is slow and that feels comfortable, so I take it as a good sign.

@qween_jean

Andy Jean (left)

What brings you out here today?

I am here today for Black trans liberation, not only today, but each and every day. Moving forward, so that these folks, honey, [cops] are fucking abolished. Thank you. That’s why I’m here.

What are your hopes for the future?

My hope for the future is that no more Black and brown trans people have to be subjected to violence, that they have to be killed and that they could actually be free, fully, beautifully. That is my dream.

@neptunitesflux

Steven

the Neptunite

What brings you out here today?

I am here in celebration of not only Pride, but I’m also here for Black Lives Matter, because we celebrate Pride, but too often so many people get left out of this movement.

I believe that by combining BLM with LGBTQ+ Pride we can actually bend together and learn intersectionality and learn that we have a common oppressor. This builds a lot of strength to see people of color and queer people of color here as well as white people.

What are your hopes for the future?

My hope for the future is that we get to dress and look however we want and identify however we want and not have to deal with the threatening looks, not have to deal with the shit talk, not have to deal with the potential violence threats and the death threats. That is my hope for the future.

And my hope for the future is also, for us queer people of color to work within ourselves as well, because there is a lot of self-hate among our community; it’s not just our common oppressor. It’s gotten to the point where we teach this shit to ourselves and we need to fix that.

One of my hopes for the future is for us to stand in harmony and as one, like we should have a long time ago.

@sugarb_icny @jencinclair

Sugar B.

& Jen Cinclair

What brings you out here today?

Jen: I am here with one of my besties whom I met at the Imperial Court of New York. She happens to be the first Black biological woman empress of the Imperial Court of New York. She’s fucking amazing, and we marched with our court friends today.

Sugar: I am, like Jen said, one of the first biological women of color, for a cis woman to reign with the Imperial Court of New York. We are a fundraising organization that mostly comprised drag queens, drag kings. We cater to the LGBTQ+ community. We raise money for a lot of organizations. My emperor was actually working at Stonewall when the riots happened. So we are considered the Stonewall monarchs of the Imperial Court of New York.

What are your hopes for the future?

Jen: No regressions. At least keep the rights that we have right now and move forward. No regressions at least step 1, and steps 2 through 50…so many fucking things.

Sugar: I have a basic theory: If you take care of yourself, in turn you take care of other people. Wear your masks; stay inside; don’t believe that you are better than anyone; don’t believe that you are not immune to what’s going on. There is a lot of people out here today, but you cannot cancel Pride. Pride is something that we do. But in the same spirit, stay safe. And if you can and when you can stay home… And I hope to hug someone very shortly. Oh my god I miss it. I miss hugging and kissing and loving people — it’s the most amazing thing.

Graham D’Craquer

& Madelyn Keith

What brings you out here today?

Madelyn: My name is Madelyn Keith. I am empress 34 of the Imperial Court of New York.

Graham: And I am Graham D’Craquer, and I am member 29 of the Imperial Court of New York. And we are husbands in real life. So the Imperial Court of New York is a 501c3 charity organization that raises money for LGBTQ+ organizations, and we do it through events. And we figured since there is no Pride parade today, we’d just walk around, spread a little joy, spread a little cheer.

Madelyn: Imperial Court is 35 years old, and we are the producers of Night of the 1000 Gowns, which takes place in the spring. This year, our coronation was canceled due to the coronavirus, but we wanted to come out; we wanted to say hello; we wanted to show people we are here, we are proud, and that we love everybody.

Graham: Absolutely.

What are your hopes for the future?

Madelyn: First, I’d love to see everybody get through this, so we could get back to doing what we do: fundraising and charity, visiting people in hospice, and just bringing a little light to people.

Xander Gaines

What brings you out here today?

It’s Pride. It’s New York. I wanna see my family, my friends, my sisters, and although I can’t be with them the way I normally am, I could be among them so I’m out.

What are your hopes for the future?

A future. That’s my hope. Just having a future.

@joelriveraaa

Joel Rivera

What brings you out here today?

I’m 19 now, and I still got a high school education. I’m in college right now, and I’ve been an active member of the Black Lives movement since the day I was born and now I’m here.

I do a protest at Stonewall every Thursday. [And] now what I’m currently doing is stopping traffic, because I know when the Pride parades that are led by white people, when they organize they stop the streets. But when it’s for Black people, they let the traffic go. They try to dismantle us. So that’s why I’m here; it only takes one person.

I feel like the people here — they don’t want to join in, that’s fine. A lot of people are pussies, I can’t help that. So I’m here just doing that, doing my part, causing chaos, because like I said, I’m not peaceful; I’m not violent. I say I’m not peaceful, because I am here to cause noise, to cause chaos. I’m here to wake people up.

But I’m not violent, because the police are violent. People that hate in their hearts are violent. I don’t have hate in my heart, so I’m not violent.

What are your hopes for the future?

I guess it’s kind of cliché: I hope for equality. I hope that if I was to go on a train just like this, I wouldn’t face any harassment. I hope that there is a new system that doesn’t see the color of your skin but sees the content of your character. That’s what Martin Luther King said.

I hope that every single person in the world, now that’s crazy, but I hope that every single person in the world finds love in their heart. If you have love, it doesn’t matter your sexuality, your gender identity, your skin color, because you will just love everybody. And honestly, I take it back when I said it was a stretch. It should not be a stretch to be able to love everyone, but some people just make it so difficult.

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Alexey Kim

Founder

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Categories
Editorial Latest

Untitled (America) Is Our Future (?)

EDITORIAL/ACTIVISM

Untitled (America)

Is Our Future (?)

Brooklyn-based drag artist Untitled Queen offers a glimpse at a new America, through her July 4th digital fundraiser.

sidewalkkilla

No one could have predicted

That the new decade

Would start off the way that it did.


As most of the world was put under coronavirus-related lockdown, the landscape of our day-to-day lives started shifting. It wasn’t a “free” world anymore as we knew it – perspectives on what’s important started changing, and it seemed that the value of human connection finally started outweighing the value of clout and material things. People started missing things that they had taken for granted, like seeing your abuela or walking down a crowded street.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed so many elderly and immuno-compromised lives, another pandemic has long been present in the US for over 400 years which has also claimed countless lives. A pandemic that doesn’t care about your age, gender, or the status of your immune system – it only cares about the color of your skin. It’s not that systemic racism was news, like the outbreak of this strain of the SARS virus that was named COVID-19, it’s just that a combination of unfortunate events happening all at the same time made people say, “Enough.”

The shooting of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery while out on a jog, the killing of George Floyd by a cop kneeling on his neck, and then a video of a white woman, Amy Cooper, calling cops on a Black man and pretending she was attacked, fueled the fire that has yet to be stopped. Large-scale protests and rallies, some of which turned violent, erupted all over the country, sparking the conversation about racial injustice not only in the US, but all over the world. It’s a month into the protests and there is no end in sight. People are demanding real change. Even though the mass outrage has yielded some fruitful results – such as the arrest of all 4 cops involved in George Floyd’s murder, NYC’s section 50-a repeal, and Colorado’s police reform bill signed into law – the officers that killed young EMT worker Breonna Taylor in her own home are still walking free, and there are many other police officers on the job that have yet to be held accountable for their abusive actions. And while certain municipalities have promised to defund and/or shift police budgets (LAPD slashed by $150 million, NYC slashed by $1 billion), in general the local and federal government have yet to meet the Black Lives Matter movement’s demands regarding defunding the police.

Enough

For the most part of the spring it was all about supporting LGBTQIA+ creatives that were suddenly out of work due to the coronavirus, with no means to apply for unemployment; right now it’s all about supporting Black and grassroots organizations. Even though it’s still far from possible for NY nightlife to resume with the normal pace of operations in physical venues, nightlife hosts and performers have carved out an online niche as the means for raising money for needed causes. For example, one of NYC’s nightlife impresarios, Susanne Bartsch, collected $32,000 for the Black Lives Matter movement during one of her On Top virtual parties. Ceyenne Doroshow, the founder of G.L.I.T.S. (Gays and Lesbians Living In a Transgender Society) secured over $1 million in donations for permanent housing for Black trans people, all thanks to the power of the internet.

Untitled Stitched

Amongst the sea of virtual fundraisers promoted all over social media, one particular event, hosted by drag artist Untitled Queen, stands out on its own. Brooklyn-based Untitled has a master’s degree in fine arts and puts on meticulously executed poetic performances that are as profound as they are beautiful. On July 4th, she will be hosting her own version of a fundraiser, an all-captioned digital drag show named Untitled (America).

We’re doing this fundraiser on the Fourth of July because it denotes the mass genocide and displacement of indigenous peoples and then of course enslavement and oppression of Black people in the creation of this country,” says Untitled on why she chose that specific American holiday as the date for the show. The show’s lineup is fully composed of drag artists of color, each representing the US state/territory in which they currently reside. There are four indigenous drag artists amongst the 52 scheduled acts.

A charity that Untitled decided to benefit is the Navajo Water Project, which is an indigenous-led, community-managed utility alternative that brings hot and cold running water to indigenous communities in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. Untitled adds, “Every year I do this one big fundraiser called the Brooklyn Ball, for Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. They do get a lot of funding but it’s still a really important cause. Some of my smaller fundraisers are for more local organizations that are lesser known, and that are not getting any national aid or big corporate sponsorship, and the Navajo Water Project is one of them.”

Lynn Troller

It seems that for Untitled, it always came as second nature to be a patient learner and a compassionate advocate for inclusivity. Untitled Queen is adamant about adding captions to all of her videos and encourages others to do the same, “I became more aware of deaf and hard-of-hearing communities as well as accessibility, because I went to the drag scene in Rochester. They have a huge deaf community because of their deaf interpreter school. And so when I went to do their show, their shows were completely live-interpreted all the time and they had a big deaf community in their queer club. They were interpreting and signing and I was like, whoa, I’ve never seen this before. That night I met a deaf drag queen. I’ve never met a deaf drag queen before. I was so stunned by that. I feel like in New York we think we’re really ahead of the curve in a lot of ways and we’re not. So then I started to learn more about deaf culture. Deaf culture loves drag, loves queer culture, just as much as anyone else. I realized, why would you go to a drag show or any live event if you’re not being encouraged to be welcomed there. So that’s when I started to get really passionate about it.”

Ricky Rosé

Cherub Borne

Untitled has also become very interested in learning more about community-organizing aspects such as fundraising and charitable efforts. She says that uplifting and focusing on brown and Black voices has always been a part of her community in the Brooklyn drag scene, “I’ve always tried to challenge myself to widen the understanding of what community means, what it looks like and how to increase accessibility on lots of different levels, and I always realize how much more you can be challenging yourself to really understand what those ideas are about. Lady Quesadilla is a friend of mine and is another amazing drag queen and she’s been saying this stuff for years. In her pre-show speeches she’d always say, ‘We need to question what our community boundaries are, your community doesn’t look like you. Your community is the homeless, people with disabilities, the incarcerated. What are you doing for your community?’  And now its resonating with me even more hardcore. I want to also be an example for people to really acknowledge their complicity, acknowledge that you have something to work on. It’s not like, ‘Oh, I just do these parties so I’m exempt from this conversation.’”

Anya Knees

In a recently resurfaced clip from a 1992 episode of Golden Girls, Blanche Deveraux is challenged by then up-and-coming actor Don Cheadle, when she proudly hangs up a Confederate flag at a party and defends it as a family heirloom and a reminder of the good ole days. After a few rebuttals from Don Cheadle’s character, Blanche finally concedes,

“…Everything that I grew up believing in, all of my wonderful memories, they are tarnished now by the truth.”

Fragility seems to be another topic associated directly with people’s resistance to change and progress, and is something that Untitled is familiar with as a light-skinned Puerto Rican and Filipino descendant, “Everybody who’s not Black and who’s not indigenous is in some proximity to white supremacy and white privilege. I feel like people of color that are non-Black often feel defensive because it feels like it diminishes our struggles or our shared feelings of oppression. I feel like I felt that in other people and even in myself. I feel like I’ve come to the realization that it’s not the same at all and that is the big distinction. I think that we are not exempt from the white supremacy machine. The only people that aren’t in proximity to whiteness are Black people and indigenous people. So that’s where I feel like we should recognize that we have the advantages, because of how we look… Being a non-Black, non-indigeous PoC doesn’t exempt you from having to work to dismantle white supremacy. I think it’s often an assumption that being a PoC means we share the same struggle as Black and indigenous people. We don’t, because we still benefit from white supremacy, and therefore still have privilege and work to do.

A fine arts background served as an inspiration to Untitled’s name, and it also makes perfect sense why the show was named Untitled (America): “Untitled comes from just like the sort of a beginning as an art term, sort of a blank slate and an empty line that you can fill and project and create from what’s really not a fixed point of view. I’m really interested in constant deconstructing and constructing identity that is completely fluid and that understands that all these things are fluid. To me, that is what drag really is – it’s finding that kind of a light that brings all these art forms together. Drag for me is like the quintessential form of this construction, deconstruction, challenging labels, ideas and binaries. Drag does it constantly and on a big level, in lots of different ways and with lots of different approaches. Then you realize, wow these things are everywhere – you don’t have to be any certain way. But I think drag really emphasizes that because it’s made up of all these moves that you manipulate… I think that’s what’s so exciting about the show is that there’s this whole assumption of when people say ‘America’ and they mean ‘white.’ We’re always answering the questions, ‘Where are you from? No, really. Where are you from? Where are your parents from?’ because if you are a person of color, they don’t understand that you’re an American. The assumption is that America is white and so this show is talking about that.”

Untitled (America)

“I did a vampire show and I did a whole poem number about a Filipino vampire that looks herself up on Wikipedia. She basically begins to understand who she is based on what other people have told her on the internet and there’s really not that much. There’s not many images, there’s no video and so this is a parallel about what it means to be a Philippine X, because a lot of it is told identity. Not necessarily what I reflect out.” – Untitled Queen

America ≠ white

Untitled (America)’s casting was pretty specific. Untitled Queen says that local drag is her favorite thing. She feels that what makes it so political and punk is its response to the immediate place that you are in with the people that you make that space with. She wanted to make sure that all of the participants would be PoC and that they didn’t have nationwide recognition or a following that other drag artists might have. Untitled really wanted to focus on people who were really doing something in their communities, like creating art in direct conversation with people in America, but then also not having had the chance to tell their stories. Untitled emphasizes that the show is by no means comprehensive or exhaustive, “There are so many different ways of gender and drag expression. This is why I say ‘drag artists,’ it’s because so many people only want to talk about drag queens and it’s so nauseating, so not wide, not a conversation. This is not just about drag queens, and the drag scene has never been just about them as much as we want to talk about them. The show is not exhaustive as in it doesn’t represent everybody, but it is a challenge for everyone, and myself, to expand what our community looks like, discover new artists, and uplift their work.”

Catch Untitled (America) on Untitled Queen’s Twitch account, at 5 PM EST on July 4, 2020. Half of the donations will be split between the performers, while the other half will be donated to the Navajo Water Project. Sidewalkkilla has collaborated with incredible illustrator Paco May, who was kind enough to contribute the beautiful illustrations of Untitled Queen, Cherub Borne, Ricky Rosé, Anya Knees, and Lynn Troller that accompany this article. All of the proceeds from the print sales of the drag artists’ illustrations will additionally benefit the Navajo Water Project. Please visit Paco May’s Etsy store and support the inidigenous grassroots organization and the incredible artists involved in the production of this show and the article (Untitled Queen and Paco May.)

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Alexey Kim

Founder

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EDITORIALS

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Categories
Activisim Bushwig Events Latest Pride

Bushwig Celebrates Pride & Rides In Solidarity With BLM

Bushwig Pride x BLM

PRIDE/ACTIVISM

The only acceptable way of celebrating Pride in 2020 is if you are doing it in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Bushwig drag festival organizers did just that on Friday, June 26. The event started off with a three-mile bike ride from Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick and ended at McCarren Park in Williamsburg. In Buswhig’s style, attendees were encouraged to wear wigs. Drag performer Merrie Cherry led the horde of colorful bikers in a red convertible. A few hundred people ended up gathering on the lawns of McCarren Park, listening to the evening’s speakers, watching performances by The Dragon Sisters, Magenta, Jette Grey, C’etait BonTemps, and more. The donations provided during the event were to be split between the performers and a grassroots non-profit organization, G.L.I.T.S. (Gays and Lesbians Living In a Transgender Society), that houses homeless black trans people. Amongst the highlights of the evening was the event’s speaker and performer Jette Grey, a black trans sex worker, asking people to donate money to her Venmo account, so that she could help other trans people in need. In just a couple of hours she announced that she has collected over $7,000, with the donations going over $10K by the next day. The event finished off with a fiery speech by Samuel Nemir Olivares – a progressive Latinx, queer state committee candidate – and a dance party that was eventually ended by police intervention.

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Alexey Kim

Founder

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