Celebrating The Intersection Of Pride And Progress: Recognizing Black Queer Liberation In June


By Alphonso David

June is a convergence of power for Black queer people to celebrate our history and our progress. It’s a privilege to recognize Juneteenth and Pride Month each year because they are each rooted in histories of resistance and resilience.

Black queer people have often been at the forefront of movements for liberation—especially in the racial and LGBTQ+ justice movements—only without the visibility and recognition for our contributions. In our pursuit of universal equality and social justice, we owe it to ourselves to celebrate our progress and cement our commitment to a future of liberation, especially when defending attacks against our freedoms at every turn.

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, marks the day in 1865 when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the end of slavery, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. This day has evolved from a Texas tradition into a national symbol of Black American freedom. The delay in enforcing emancipation in Texas, and the fact that Black Americans remained enslaved in Delaware until December 6, 1865, when the 13th Amendment was ratified, reflect the persistent resistance necessary to maintain our progress.

Even when we win significant battles for our freedom we still experience a delay in access to what we earned. It is a reminder of the systemic racism that has long plagued the political truth of the United States. While Juneteenth is a moment of celebration, it is equally representative of the reality that freedom delayed is freedom unrealized. 

Over a century later, in the summer of 1969, New York City became a turning point in LGBTQ+ history. Led by Black queer people, the Stonewall Riots, sparked by a police raid on the Stonewall Inn in New York City, gave birth to a movement that demanded visibility, equality, and the end of discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Figures such as Marsha P. Johnson, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, and Stormé DeLarverie were pivotal in these protests, representing the critical role of Black leaders sparking the fight for LGBTQ+ rights.

Fifty-five years since the Stonewall Riots, Black queer people remain at the forefront of resistance, fighting back against oppressive systems across the globe. Recent setbacks, including the “Don’t Say Gay/Trans” bills, bans on Critical Race Theory, the Dobbs decision against reproductive justice, and the elimination of affirmative action, did not occur in isolation. Instead, these actions are part of a deliberate strategy by right-wing leaders aimed at undoing the hard-won progress we have achieved.

For us, the intersectional oppression we face can be especially violent because the attacks seem to target the very essence of our identities, simply for openly being who we are. Whether it’s attacks on transgender youth getting to participate in sports or LGBTQ+ people having the freedom to live openly and unapologetically, our present-day advocacy reaffirms lessons we have learned in the past: meaningful change is driven by collective action and mutual support. 

This June, our charge is clear: celebrate the achievements of our ancestors, remember what’s at stake, and mobilize to protect our freedoms. By leveraging our collective power, we can build a future where we can live free from oppression.

Alphonso David is the president & CEO of the Global Black Economic Forum.

This post was originally published on New York Amsterdam News.