We're only halfway through 2019 and it's amazing how much has happened already.
"We're here, we're queer, we're fabulous, don't fuck with us."
This last weekend was the wrap up of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, with weekend-long celebrations in cities from San Francisco to Montgomery, Alabama to New York. Multi-Day events have expanded from a Gay Pride March to include Dyke Marches, and the Trans Day of Action (this account from Tourmaline dives not only into the history but the incredible work of the trans community today, especially trans folks of color). The story of sex work has always been an important part of the story of LGBTQ liberation, and a recent poll found that 83% of LGBTQ Americans support decriminalization.
Even globally, this connection remains strong:
And in 2005, South Korea even adopted June 29 as Korean Sex Workers' Day:
And here in the US, DecrimNow DC held a rally at City Hall last Friday after dropping off a petition to support the Community Health and Safety Act of 2019 - DC's decrim bill. To see videos, check out @DecrimNowDC:
I'm just in love with this photo:
And in Nakuru, Kenya protests broke out after law enforcement conducted raids of sex workers in the city. Chairperson the sex worker lobby Smart Ladies commented, "The way they handle us during arrests is terrible. We are not criminals but working to earn a living just like any other human being.”
This year also has sadly reminded us how far there is to go in fighting violence and marginalization. While trans sex workers are the catalyst of this day and the future of queer liberation, many agree that names like Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, and places like Compton's Cafeteria have been largely forgotten.
On the actual anniversary of the Stonewall riots beginning, and not even weeks after the death of Layleen Xtravaganza Cubliette-Polanco, a black trans woman stopped a drag show at Stonewall to read the names of those we have already lost to the overwhelming interpersonal and structural violence, including the loss of one community member just this week. While this woman demanded that everyone remember the core of the day: to fight, to throw bricks, to demand life, patrons were less than supportive. Read the account here:
Fierce sex workers organizer and DecrimNY member Bianey Garcia, was pepper sprayed in Queens while filming a documentary about trans violence and policing. Send Bianey some good thoughts and love, and if you're in NYC on Monday, head to the rally.
Wins Today, and Those Yet to Come
2019 has also been historic for the steps forward, and the multi-faceted way that change happens. In Queens, New York, queer Latina Tiffany Caban has won a hotly contested race to become the District Attorney, with strong support from DecrimNY, including on-the-ground, door-to-door canvassing (which is also regularly on-going in DC, if you ever are in the district and want to help out!). Caban has been a vocal supporter of sex workers' rights, and has promised not to prosecute sex workers after decades of aggressive policing for loitering for the purposes of prostitution, which targeted immigrant neighborhoods. This year, bills were introduced in New York to repeal the loitering statute and a second which would repeal several prostitution-related statutes (they would have both repealed loitering, one is both broader and was written more recently), and the loitering repeal came closer to passing than in any year before (legal change takes a hot minute). While Caban's commitment is not decriminalization, it is both a material step towards supporting the health and safety of sex workers in Queens, and am important reminder than change comes with many levers and steps in between today and tomorrow.
In another important battle, the women of color-led reproductive justice organization SisterSong, which has its upcoming Let's Talk About Sex Conference happening in October, is taking the lead on challenging the anti-abortion law passed in Georgia this year, HB481.
For folks in the San Francisco & Bay Area:
Great Articles to remind us that Journalism is still Valuable
Melissa Gira Grant wrote about Cindy McCain, trafficking panic, and how the rhetoric of anti-trafficking is fueling Trump's xenophobia.
The website OpenDemocracy's Beyond Trafficking and Slavery project writes about exploitation and trafficking in diverse industries, across different communities, and in countries around the world and this week they wrote about why the entire field needs to support decriminalization.
The only right way to end this post is to say Happy Pride! And always remember who threw the first glasses, the first fists of change, led protesters to the jails to demand an end to state violence and swung the first purses:
Fuck yes, Marsha. May we live up to your dreams.