constellational thinker. critical educator.

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Pride & Liberation: The Next 50 Years of Stonewall’s Legacy

Cross-posted on Medium

Today, many (including myself) observe the 50th anniversary of the first night of riots that involved and surrounded the Stonewall Inn.

Alongside the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot in ’66, Stonewall served and continues to serve as a clarion call to those whose genders, sexualities, sexual practices, and ways of being in the world were and continue to be subjected to policing, whether by police forces, state and national policies, or those ideologies that seek to standardize, normalize, and flatten difference.

These events serve as examples of queer and trans people, many Black and Brown, many who participated in sex work, pushing back and declaring through blood, sweat, tears, and bullhorns: we’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not going to take it anymore.

And it is the “we” that remains critical to this day. We, all queer and trans folks, have much further to go to make sure “we” are all included in a vision of queer and trans liberation set out by our forebearers. “Some” of us have come a long way; we have not all reached those places together.

So today, as I think of the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and the upcoming 53rd anniversary of Compton’s Cafeteria, I cannot help but think of what a critical vision of liberation and pride continue to look like for all of us.

A version of pride and liberation where all bodies are celebrated, enjoyed, and fulfilled, where headless torsos do not set our sexual or romantic agendas.

A version of pride and liberation where desire is not basic, relegated only to certain skin pigments, crop topped abs, or expressions of gender.

A version of pride and liberation where justice is the norm, where love and acceptance are centered, rather than any of them being treated as an outlier or exception.

A version of pride and liberation where gender continues to be expansive, not limited by binaries but rather the edges of our individual imaginations.

A version of pride and liberation where we engage with, rather than cast off, the generations in front of us and behind us, capitalizing on what we many of us were robbed of throughout the 80s and 90s.

A version of pride and liberation where our memories of the past are not sound bites but continue to be foregrounded as we look and move forward.

If I am alive and well for the 100th anniversary of Stonewall, I hope to look back and forward with pride, to show we could meet that radical, expansive, and soul-filling vision of liberation.

Alex Lange