Several dozen people donning outfits supporting the LGBTQ+ and Black community gathered in Gateway Plaza to dance, hear poetry and protest for their rights.
The event, hosted by local activist group All of Us, comes as protests and rallies have continued across the country to fight for equality for all. It also comes one day after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison for the murder of George Floyd and one day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced people will now have the ability to pick a gender neutral option on their driver’s license. Saturday also marked the six-year anniversary of the Supreme Court extending the right to marry to gay and lesbian couples. The eventalso was held two days before the 52-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City.
Keiyunu Etzli sat on the grass chatting with a friend and saying hello to people as they walked by. Etzli said he was there to support the Black transgender community.
“I’m here for my Black trans sisters that keep dying in bathrooms, for the Black trans sex workers that don’t make it out of police cars,” Etzli said.
Etzli also said while many voices have spoken up and changes have taken place, those actions are primarily performative. Etzli said to make real change people need to look at how the laws were created and understand the laws may not work anymore and there are ways to make them better.
“Radical reform is needed in how laws are made,” Etzli said.
Brianne Brinker said she came out as transgender two years ago and has since switched over her license. But, she said the move by Cuomo is tremendous.
“That’s huge for non-binary people,” she said. “There’s so many people that identify that way.”
She said she was at the protest as a way to keep learning about systemic racism’s impact on the Black community and find ways to support the Black community for change.
“They should be at the table,” she said. “It’s really important their voices are where things are happening,” she said.
Brinker said the old ways of doing things aren’t working and new avenues need to be explored, including reallocating resources to help communities.
During the event speakers touched on topics like what freedom looks like through their eyes, mental health and that more work is needed.
“We’re still fighting because there are people every day that tell me ‘why are you fighting for equality? We had a Black president,’” said Mor’Glamazon, a self-described drag queen and an activist with All of Us and Community Matters.
One of the speakers, Mother La’Mia, a spokesmodel for HIV Stops With Me, also spoke to everyone about the importance of getting tested for HIV and voting.
She said that there was a 200% increase in 2020 in new HIV infections across the state.
“All of us play a role when it comes to getting tested,” La’Mia said. “We want to normalize testing.”
She said if everyone begins to ask for an HIV test then healthcare facilities will provide them regularly.
She said people can also vote for candidates that are willing to allocate resources to areas like HIV testing.