PRIDE rally at the courthouse steps in uptown Athens [Claudia Cisneros | WOUB]

Athens Pride Rally Addresses Queer Justice, Racial Justice And Immigration

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — “Stop killing us. Stop killing Black folks. Stop killing Brown folks. Stop killing Queer folks. Stop killing Trans folks. It’s simple, yet people have a hard time understanding that. Stop killing us, period,” were the opening remarks to crowd by delfin bautista, a long know activist and one of the rally organizers along with Southeastern Ohio Rainbow Alliance (SEORA).

People gathered at College Green to shared their experiences and what PRIDE meant to them. [Claudia Cisneros | WOUB]
“This year it’s a celebration of Pride, given that it’s Pride month. But given everything that is happening it’s also in solidarity to Black Lives Matter,” bautista points out to the connections between queer justice and racial justice.

“The pride movements in the U.S. were started by queer people of color, specifically Black queer people of color; as well as the raising number of trans people that are killed, most of whom are trans people of color.”

PRIDE Month celebrations occur in the United States to commemorate the Stonewall riots in Manhattan, New York that occurred in June 1969. That uprising set off the gay rights and liberation movement in the United States. PRIDE is a celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) identity and proud acceptance.

This year’s PRIDE demonstration in Athens was going to be online due to COVID-19, but delfin explained how current events such as the latest Supreme Court ruling in favor of trans people, the civil unrest against racism and police brutality, and the violence against trans people, moved the organizers to make it a street rally at the last minute.

Dozens of people first gathered Saturday afternoon under the statues in the College Green area of Ohio University campus. The open microphone welcomed people of all colors, genders and ages. Most of them were wearing masks and trying to exercise some social distancing amidst the gathering.

People shared their experiences with coming out being gay or non-binary, and what Pride meant to them. Immediately after the rally people marched north on College St. until the courthouse where the peaceful protest took place.

The LGBTQ demonstrators were joined by other families and supporters carrying colorful signs. Two little girls with rainbow flowers on their heads carried a sign that read: “If god hates gays, why are we so cute.”

Young activists joined the PRIDE rally in uptown Athens. (Claudia Cisneros | WOUB)

Jane Newton, their mother, said that they had been going to PRIDE parades since they were 3-years-old “and its a big part of our family identity.” She said that she’s proud of her daughters’ activism “They’re advocates, they’re pretty vocal advocates. They have friends that identify in a variety of ways and they’re very quick to correct on pronouns, on identity markers, things like that.”

Participants in the SEORA Pride Rally and Protest kneel for a moment of silence to honor victims of violence. (Claudia Cisneros | WOUB)

But this year’s PRIDE rally and activism is not just about the LGBTQ community. delfin and the organizers made it intentionally about the oppression against minorities; against genders, against African Americans and against immigrants’ rights.

One of the participants addressing the crowd – and who preferred not to be identified- stated that, “as long as on class has the freedom to oppress, the oppressed do not have the freedom to be.”

Freedom to be and right to be treated equally. delfin points out before wrapping up the rally that despite the recent victory at the Supreme Court, LGBTQ people “still have no protections when it comes to housing; we still have no protections when it comes to hate crimes. So, we still need more protection. We’re still not fully equal.”