June is an important and historic month for the LGBTQ+ community. The tradition of celebrating the LGBTQ+ community in June began with an uprising against police brutality on June 29th, 1969. Direct action by Marsha P. Johnson & Sylvia Rivera, both transgender women of color, drew the line at the injustice and cruelty aimed at our community. Their courage jump-started a Pride movement that is the foundation of our fight for civil rights. After the uprising, Johnson & Rivera continued their work by creating an agency focused on supporting LGBTQ+ homeless youth. Their lifelong contributions have not only been overlooked, but have been purposefully ignored and erased, along with the work by many others from communities of color, including LGBTQ+ individuals and leaders.
Another seminal day is Juneteenth, commemorating and celebrating June 19, 1865, the day the last slaves in the Confederacy learned of the Emancipation Proclamation which had been issued months before. We understand that there are many who argue that the Civil War has little to nothing to do with slavery. Juneteenth is an opportunity to pause and reflect, and attempt to understand the Civil War through the eyes of those of us once enslaved, those of us who continue to survive the oppression of being the “other” in this nation, generation after generation.
The Springfield NAACP hosts a Juneteenth celebration every year because we believe that our journeys and our stories are important too. We believe that to negate any one part of our history not only invokes repeating it, but affects all of us. There are queer and trans people who are people of color too. We cannot divide ourselves. We want to celebrate all of who we are, not only parts that may be acceptable.
In 2012, it was the endorsement and leadership of President Barack Obama that led the NAACP to support marriage equality, hence, the NAACP began its work to ensure equality and justice for queer and trans people of color. While we understand that the NAACP has much to accomplish in its efforts to support and empower queer and trans people of color … we are grateful to stand here today, to share and uphold the NAACP’s commitment to ensure equality and justice for all of us, right here in Springfield, MO.
The GLO Center strongly believes that social justice and racial equity are integral to our community’s success. Pride & Juneteenth are equally important to the LGBTQ+ community. In recent years, there has been an increasing difficulty in scheduling these two important local celebrations in the same month. As we must avoid weekends where Pride is scheduled in larger cities such as Kansas City & St. Louis, we often ended up scheduling Pride the same weekend as Juneteenth. This means that community members, vendors, and donors often have had to choose between the two events, thus creating an impediment to the growth and success of our local Juneteenth celebration.
This year, we are pleased to announce that The GLO Center, in recognition of the contributions made by Queer & Transgender People of Color, will be supporting the black community by moving Pride away from the same weekend as Juneteenth. There will be several Pride events in June, honoring the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and giving us all the opportunity to celebrate our authentic selves. The traditional Pridefest in Park Central Square will be moved to October, the anniversary month of the GLO Center and LGBTQ+ History Month. This year, the Greater Ozarks PrideFest will be the day after Coming Out Day, October 12, 2019.
Moving the festival allows us to persist in our tradition of pride, honor all who came before us, carve out additional space for LGBTQ+ people of color, utilize the capacity of our volunteers and community efficiently, and most importantly lift up the voices of our local communities of color. Stay tuned to Greater Ozarks Pride for events to honor the Stonewall Uprising in June. We look forward to seeing everyone at Juneteenth on June 15th.