Roots Pride: Pride is Political

Town Hall Meeting – June 11, 2015

The Panel: from RT to LF – apologies for any name misspellings

Billy (not seen in image) – is an activist since the late 70s, involved in many organizations/ programs – Cry Out Act Up, is currently teacher in the public schools (science – biology)

G (my apologies, I did not catch this panelist’s name/ spelling) – traveled from N. Carolina to be here with us, part of Get Equal

Rasha – graduate from the Art Institute, does a lot of work to help elevate trans black men (in Pittsburgh)

Julie – a part of the Socialist Alternative

TJ – young activist, member/leader in many organizations – Youth of Hope, Allies Club

Dez – a part of True T

Aria – works closely with the LGBTQIA+ community and does a lot of work to help elevate trans women of color (in Pittsburgh)

Michael – educator, poly sci, activist for queer and trans people of color, fosters healing, zine writer, identifies as a black queer intersectionist with trans experience

Joy KMT – healer, activist, Environmentalist for Justice

Roots Pride Horizontal (3)

Questions for the panel asked by Bekezela Mguni: (I tried to get each of the answers)

1. Why is pride political? What does that mean for you/ our city?

Joy “… to be on earth is to be political, what we do with our resources and how we treat each other … being a queer person or a trans person is political”

Michael – “… those passing legislation, affect our lives… it says what we can or cannot access, tells us what resources and spaces we have or have not access to, people of color have even less access to those resources and spaces, in the political setting there is even less representation for people of color, there’s no one that looks like us/me”

Aria – “being a black trans woman in Pittsburgh is hard… we have rights too”

Dez – “everything is political, gay black men have nothing for them in Pittsburgh, have to do whatever it takes to get what they can such as space and resources”

TJ – “…the action of going to pride is political, it shows us coming together, shows that we exist …it is a form of protest…”

Julie – “…tired of the brutality caused by capitalism…”

Rasha – “…have seen what has happened and what keeps happening, just tired of being told what to do, how to do it…”

G – “being ourselves and acting as ourselves is political action, celebrating us…”

Billy – “…thinking about the opposite statement: pride is not political and what that means/ is saying, what that says to us is – shut up and it is an insertion of power and a form of silencing and policing our lives…”

This past Friday (June 5) was the first ever Latino Pride… Pride is a combination of Love and Rage… We have a right to our rage and a right to be loved… Pride is suppose to be a representation of our multidimensional selves

2. In the context of our social selves – our lived experience – what keeps you fighting? What motivates your lived experiences to go and fight against the injustices – your self and with others?

Dez – “I have 3 brothers… can walk into a store and be assumed gay, or walk in and be assumed straight… in the black community can be seen as too queer, in the queer community or in a white community can be seen as too black, assumed one way or the other and can be frustrating trying navigate and figure out where do I fit in…”

Aria – “… unemployment, discrimination within and outside the community… enough with the violence and discrimination… it is better to have a voice than to be silent”

Julie – “the homelessness, not everyone having the same access to food, healthcare, discrimination in dealing with healthcare, want to tear that down, help with the day to day stuff…”

Joy – “being black in the city can be insanely hard, there’s constant violence and discrimination, dealing with structural issues, dealing with spaces that are mostly white and not finding community there. Ex: Sharon Needles – it’s not ok to NOT think about the way we affect each other… I have 5 children, have to deal with issues about being a mother and discrimination for being black, it’s not okay to discriminate like that…”

Michael – “…7 trans people of color murdered, 20 suicides, I think about this everyday, I have close friends who are trans women of color and it can be easy for a trans man to blend in or not care, it’s terrifying, you can lose a lot: healthcare, homes, jobs, etc. … don’t have to fight for myself necessarily but fight for others like trans WOC – have personally lost 24 friends – think about other lives being in danger even if it’s not your own”

TJ – “…think about youth stuff, I’m a youth person, think about how rare that is and feeling validated in your identity can be hard, want to help the kids…”

Rasha – “think about the homelessness, no healthcare, BTR (black trans revolution), we’re used to being by ourselves and have to fight for ourselves, experience with BTR is amazing and everyone should feel that love”

Billy – “I don’t like bullies, I acknowledge the privilede I have access to – white, educated, good family, access to a queer community and I can recognize that and speak out about it, feel compelled after hearing the Azealia Banks interview… if you’re going to be a part of it, be respectful, careful and considerate of those in that community, work to not support that kind of behavior…”

Delta insurrection – challenged Iggy as a choice – Pride is suppose to represent a large group; adopting black culture via voice, body, mannerisms etc. (she’s a 25 yr old white chick from Australia) is not okay… people want black culture but hate black people, it’s not just about the culture in that moment but the history and the violence; it’s not a new complaint, it’s constant marginalization and we’re upset with what she represents, the embolism, she is indicative of continued marginalization

3. Knowing that we were challenging this embolism and disregard; how do you tackle the things that show this, how does Iggy represent this?

Michael – “phone calls, emails, FB; were sick of this; tear some shit up… when putting this together did not expect the hundreds of people to support it… woke up to 200 people attending then went up 500 by Mon the numbers were to 800… we’ve tried something like this before and have not seen results like this, the number of rallies this is 6-9 months worth of… doesn’t hurt that people don’t like her in hip hop anyway”

Joy – “implemented in serving, you can’t claim to serve a whole community or resources that you don’t listen to… old people, sober people, other communities are being isolated and when you take something like Pride on, you’re taking on that responsibility – that a responsibility to service, trying to appeal to those not in the community is disrespectful…”

G – “I’m hearing that is a device, who’s being left out? It’s suppose to a message of love and inclusion… Delta tried saying this isn’t about patriarchy etc. but that’s exactly what it is and if that’s not recognized then it’ll keep happening, it is happening all over and that is thanks to the leadership…”

Dez – “…I complain all the time about Pride events and it was Delta’s response that made me moved to act”

Billy – “doing this is so huge, they are called out on that they are not the voice; they can do what they do within their little corner but the arrogance of the claim and the stolen and re-written history is unacceptable…”

6-2-1 vote they’ve erased that 1 … to focus on that 1, to try and erase it from history shows its importance or potentially how unaware of history they are – I’m trying to remember more about what was said on this

It’s so important that we are unflinching – carelessness, plagiarism and neglect can negatively affect us; we are rich with legacy and history, reflected in a vibrant way… have never attended a Pride like that until now

What’s good about Pittsburgh? There are gems in Pittsburgh that will keep you here because they are changing the world; be BOLD and COURAGEOUS

Delta = embolism of the systemic racism and oppression etc.

4. What is your definition or vision of community? What do you think we need to get there?

Joy – “…white supremacy is structural, use these words… we are having to constantly explain our existence and lie at the intersection saying: Do you see me? I am Human! Do you see me? I am Human! Incredible to see movements like #blacklivesmater and I have to say would be nice to have a place where we don’t have to explain our existence or humanity”

Rasha – “it’s BTR (black trans revolution), it’s Michael’s house, it’s being around people who look, talk, act like me…”

Dez – “…heard there’s no black home spaces, it takes money, there’s only one I can go to and that’s only b/w 12a-5a, I have to create 80% of the events

Aria – “family, standing up for each other, ride for each other, up lifting and being there for each other, only recently have felt that from the outside…”

Julie – “care for each other, provide basic human rights for all, should not have to say this it should be the norm; can just be our selves… would be nice to get an official to help facilitate that because it doesn’t exist now…”

TJ – “safety, solidarity can be difficult because of the different privileges… be able to grown and learn from when we mess up, we’re told we aren’t suppose to exist and saying YES WE DO is hard b/c the act of existence is protest and not everyone can travel to all the places/spaces, make it accessible to everyone…”

  • Celebrate me even with everything that is trying to kill me
  • Existence is Resistance
  • May be hard but there are triumphs
  • Strong resistance
  • Ride all weekend long and all year long

a couple articles about the meeting with Delta: Pgh CP, Pgh Post-Gazette

Report from the meeting with Delta Foundation: Hosted by Dignity and Respect Campaign

  • Spent about 2.5 weeks challenging Delta, no one had been invited initially; Joy was finally invited the night before the actual meeting
  • The meeting was about 2.5 hours long
  • Was facilitated by 2 folks who at least looked like they were trying to give everyone a chance to speak
  • Mostly talked about solutions and ways to move forward without actually addressing what had happened – only a few time were actual issues that happened brought up
  • The Delta representatives were very passive/ aggressive either passing on answering anything or repeating the same answers with different words but never actually answered any question … Ex: What have learned tonight? … We talked a lot tonight
  • No accountability – they did not listen

People of Color in general are not really allowed to be emotional – seen as angry or callous – those are your choices … had to walk out at one point due to getting too heated and come back

There’s too much pain and suffering to be solved in only a couple hours

The demand for Delta: Give us a break down of your expenses – $60,000 was claimed for “other” expenses… Wanted to see a recent break down through at least 2014

Tried giving us their Audits or 9-90 but it all said the same statement $60,000 for “other” and we specified that we didn’t want to see audits or 9-90s we wanted to see the actual break down of who was getting what and how much – wanted to see how LGBTQIA+ were being supported. You can’t claim to be leading an organization and not know how you’re providing resource. $75,000 over 7 years. When we asked for the break down of who got money and how much they still only gave us their 9-90 and audits – claimed it was for “Pride stuff.” We stated what we wanted multiple times and were very clear on exactly what we wanted

Was actually the Dignity/Respect Campaign that called the meeting together NOT Delta. The person who handled the list of invites had consulted with Delta to see who should be on it and Delta didn’t initially invite Joy or Michael. Which communities were reached out to? New Voices Pgh, Dreams of Hope, Fellowship, Black Pride… Would think the people who made international news would be reached out to.

“… I saw how Gary and Chris used their power to silence others, the facilitators were not holding them accountable when they were not answering the actual question; no acknowledgement of what happened and that needs to happen before we can have any type of resolution…”

  • There’s perception that we don’t want to work together and that’s simply not true.
  • Unwillingness to acknowledge the pain and hurt they caused
  • These conversations need to happen first

“…I got the sense they were treating this like a joke… very smirky and condescending…”

Update: Delta had issued an apology on the FB page today (scroll down some I think the status with the

“More time was given to golf carts then to the trauma and violence on the trans and queer people”

“…so much malarkey – kept pressing Gary to answer and he kept pushing it aside – kept the pressure up, pressured him to answer this question, this one specific question – no one wanted to get their hands dirty, kept the conversations clean… without strong leadership, people aren’t held accountable…”

“…more interested in saving face then the community – told to wait until next week to address concerns – told no, we can’t wait until next week! – They were very stoic and uncaring…”

“Where’s your courage, Gary?”

– BREAK –

Q&A and Comments from the Audience:

Jennifer – what do you want from us, as a community? If it’s just you on the front lines, you’ll burn out. You’ll need support – what do you want from non-leaders?

“Create space – who is creating space for QTPOC; tangible resources like funding, communication or marketing skills; can get free space; evaluate your program/ staff are there representations of the community trying to reach out to?”

“…blind spots, honoring our humanity, think outside ourselves…”

“…there’s no fence on how much or what you can support… if this does die down then there won’t anything left…”

Jasmine – has been a part of the trans community and supportive since the 90s … has been a token for a number of years and got burnt out … it’s not what you know it’s who you know – business owners, people in positions of power can step it up

Betty – persad center – new space opened and available (in Lawrenceville)

Jz – was there any legal representation at the Delta meeting? Are we thinking big enough?

  • No representation
  • We are documenting everything though
  • UPMC/ Highmark are capitalizing off the queer community
  • Finish Roots Pride then can move forward

Jessy – what would solidarity look like from the ally, comrade who may have more privilege and not really in the struggle?

“… There are millions of thing to be done for events like these to happen – rides, child care also money is great!”

“It’s important to ask ‘what does solidarity looks like’ in that space b/c it’s different each time – use said power/ privilege to support the cause”

“What do you do in those comfort spaces – are you going to have those uncomfortable conversations?”

“Inclusiveness – with Pride there are no trans people there, with Black Pride there are no trans people there”

Sun 6/14 at 11 am at Grant and Fifth, there’s a rally/protest to help support union labor vs. scab labor for Pride

Sue – blogger (Amplify LGBTQ, answer questions etc.) – been attacked a lot by Delta – can feel really isolating/ lonely, they are relentless – this is a good opportunity to be thankful and thank you for this event

Gentleman originally from Brazil – positive aspects of Brazil: 2nd largest African nation outside of Africa, the largest openly trans population, host the biggest Pride events … counter those with also being the having the largest police brutality rates … needs: healthcare, jobs, homes

This is a real Leader Full movement – it can be lonely out there fighting when it seems like you’re the only one doing so – Delta wants those speaking up/out to feel this, to feel isolated and be made examples of… we need to hold each other up, be mindful of who we’re holding up and be accountable… folks can feel like they’re the only ones and that’s not the case – we need folks to come together

Some things are better with Pride since the 90s … some things are worse

It’s now a corporate thing but not everywhere (we’re taught that is a corporate event but that not always the case)

It is possible to create a space outside of the corporate Pittsburgh Pride

Question: is there a way to make race more visible? Make QTPOC more visible?

“…find ways to become more inclusive; find different cultures to merge in…”

“Hearing ‘how do we get white people to see race’ – that’s the issue…”

“This is seen as normal and people have to fight in order to be seen or heard.”

“Having to bring POC to this table is the issue b/c you created that table without POC to begin with”

“white people are actively helping and supporting that”

“this is not just a Delta issue but an issue with the white community as a whole”

“POC know how to navigate the cities when they’re new – just type black barber or black bar – it’s about how white people use those spaces, chose to engage”

“go into white spaces and feel nervous, will be uncomfortable conversations and violence etc.”

“if white people choose to not see you then that is on them and you can’t change that”

“we always have to create our own spaces”

There used to be a committee at Delta that was well represented and suppose to be a pipeline but they’re not accessing the POC when they could. Apologetic for this, for not being able to do more

Response from Michael – “I came out when I was 16 and there was no QTPOC community in this area, only queer community had access to were 30-60 yr old white gay men who played softball with… do not have to apologize … you take this or that because that’s all you have – that’s how you go – that’s how you rectify that… feeling you had to be with white people all the time”

  • You can’t come into our communities as a loiter or consumer – you have to be in solidarity with us, be committed
  • This is not a unique experience to our city
  • Social fabric
  • Look at how real estate decision are made

Encourage you to attend your local community meeting – even if community = not the best – insert yourself in the spaces outside of QTPOC and speak out; let them see you, hear you; go outside to other spaces other than where you’re seen – it’s our brick and water, what our housing is made of

Accessibility: Minnesota is focusing on accessibility issues, providing decent spaces for people who need them – quiet, healing spaces for those with sensory sensitivities – respect people in that space and respect those spaces. Understand panic attacks

POC experience more trauma from the police when they have to call them b/c someone is having a panic attack – being knocked down, guns held in their faces – it is good to know and be aware of this b/c most spaces don’t think about these needs

Encourage people to reach out about accessibility and know it is not too much to ask for. We need to raise our standard and awareness

Question: after this weekend, after the month of June – how do we keep the pressure on Delta?

There are businesses feeling guilty about supporting Pride – bar owners – that can’t back now cause money etc.

“Can demand that the money be sent to people who are doing the work, can ask Gary to leave, have the bars pass out Roots Pride material and sell Roots shirts etc., can be strategic about it”

June 18 – the east end/side (East Liberty) is being held up and honored for being a good representation of the benefits of revitalization … there’s protesting that will be happening to speak out against this

9:30 am in Bakery Square

At Mellon square park in front of the William Penn Hotel – speaking out against this and (former) residents sharing experiences – 7:30pm

Note: try checking the Roots Pride FB event page for more details on this, I tried to get what I could about it but was hard to follow all the times/ locations

Latino Pride:

The Latino community especially those who are documented are constantly having to explain their existence – where did they come from, why are they here, where did their parents come from etc. this is particularly hard on trans WOC – namely in the US

Earn $4-5,000 a year – documented = even less money earned, face more violence

Joy – taking theory to practice takes a long time… not as educated on immigrant rights… but fuck that shit, that’s not okay… in Pittsburgh saying ‘hey we are here’

Can be hard when still getting to know yourself – your culture and class/race issues are big deals with the Latino community

Education commitments – create spaces

Tricky culture with language – switching from LatinO to LatinA

Work towards not forgetting people

Get those conversations started, they are so often erased – trans people are being killed constantly or deported to countries where it is considered illegal to be gay or trans and are being killed there

What do those spaces look like? – Listen to/for those needs

Welcome Pittsburgh – immigration reform on local, state and federal levels – need to include trans and LGB people

Roots Pride Pittsburgh: Political, Personal, Powerful – an article from the town hall mtg

*I tried my best to include appropriate links and as much info on some of the upcoming events as I could

*pics and images taken from FB page/ internet searches

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