This Pride Month, Daggerwing Group stands with those who are fighting for equality across the Black and LGBTQ+ communities. We join them as allies in their fight. Throughout the month of June, we have been sharing LGBTQ+ spotlights internally to educate ourselves and to fully take part in the spirit of acknowledgment that comes with Pride. Of those, we’ve selected six people of color to share externally as a way to honor the 1969 Stonewall uprising, while continuing to acknowledge that Black Lives Matter.
MARSHA P. JOHNSON
Marsha was an American gay liberation activist and self-identified drag queen. Known as an outspoken advocate for gay rights, she was one of the prominent figures in the Stonewall uprising of 1969. She focused on creating and delivering intersectional messaging and specifically advocated on behalf of sex workers, prisoners and people with HIV/AIDS. When asked what the “P” in her name stood for, she replied: “Pay it no Mind.” This response was intended to be a rhetorical answer to the question many had on their minds as to whether she was male or female. By putting “Pay it no Mind” in her name, it deterred the public from asking the question she hated to receive.
Resources to learn more about Marsha:
- “The Life and Death of Marsha P. Johnson”
- Marsha P. Johnson’s Activism Matters Now More Than Ever
- Marsha P. Johnson: The defender of transgender rights
Sylvia disliked labels but identified herself as a transgender drag queen. She was a gay liberation and transgender rights activist, and along with her friend Marsha P. Johnson, she co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) – a group dedicated to helping homeless young drag queens, gay youth, and trans women. She also fought for the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act. Her advocacy for not just for the LGBTQ community, but also for those who didn’t fit in the mainstream led to what is today known as the LGBTQIA community. In honor of Rivera’s activism in the gay and trans community, The Sylvia Rivera Law Project was founded in 2002 as a legal aid organization that works to guarantee gay, trans, and gender-fluid individuals access to legal services.
Resources to learn more about Sylvia:
- Sylvia Rivera Law Project
- Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act
- Who Was Sylvia Rivera? Marsha P. Johnson’s Best Friend was a Fellow Pioneer
Laverne rose to prominence in her role as Sophia Burset on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. She became the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in any acting category, and the first to be nominated for an Emmy Award since composer Angela Morley in 1990. Laverne is known for being a trailblazer in the transgender community and has won numerous awards for her activist approach in spreading awareness. She is an advocate with an empowering message of moving beyond gender expectations to live more authentically.
Resources to learn more about Laverne:
- Laverne’s official website
- The Making of an Icon
- Laverne Cox on Representing the Transgender Community
Arsham first began secretly working to support members of the LGBTQ+ community in his native Iran. In 2005, he was forced to flee his country, where homosexual activity remains illegal. Today, Arsham lives in exile in Canada, where he founded the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees, which supports and provides guidance to LGBTQ+ asylum seekers from the Middle East.
Resources to learn more about Arsham:
- Arsham’s official website
- International Railroad for Queer Refugees
- Photos that explore Iran’s hidden Gay community
MISS MAJOR GRIFFIN-GRACY
Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, often referred to as Miss Major, is a trans woman activist and community leader for transgender rights with a particular focus on women of color. She served as the original Executive Director for the Transgender Gender-Variant Intersex Justice Project, which aims to assist transgender persons who are wrongfully imprisoned. Miss Major has participated in activism for a wide range of causes throughout her lifetime, including the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City. She has spent the last 40 years creating community and support systems for transgender individuals. She has even become “Mama” to so many, taking people in when they had no place else to go and helping them rejoin society after having been imprisoned. On this work, she has said: “We’re all part of one another. I would want people to understand who we are as human beings. I want us to look at the similarities more than the differences.”
Resources to learn more about Miss Major:
Bayard Rustin was a civil rights organizer, activist, and an openly gay man. He is best known for his work as adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1950s and ’60s. He taught King about Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violent resistance and advised him on the tactics of civil disobedience. He also assisted King with the boycott of segregated buses in Montgomery, Alabama in 1956. Most famously, Rustin was a key figure in the organization of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where King delivered his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963. Throughout the rest of his life, he continued to speak about the importance of economic inequality, as well as the need for social rights for gays and lesbians.
Resources to learn more about Bayard: