psa. if we’re mutuals, we’re automatically friends. u don’t need to say things like “sorry to bother” or “sorry im annoying” bc ur not. ur my friend. u can come to me for anything. u need help? im here. wanna chat? hmu. just wanna gush abt your muse? go for it. we’re friends. ily.
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on this day we celebrate revolutionary black trans visionary, performer, aids activist and mother of pride, marsha p. johnson. today would have been her 73rd birthday.
marsha’s liberation work did not end with her playing a key role during the stonewall uprisings in 1969. she, along with her friend sylvia rivera, was a founding member of the gay liberation front - a movement that centered lgbtq folks that were marginalized by other lgbtq folks.
marsha & sylvia also formed STAR, a community based org that provided housing & other support to homeless youth, sex workers, trans, & poor queer folks. STAR was a groundbreaking organization in the queer liberation movement and has become the model for many organizations since.
as the AIDS epidemic began to impact queer communities in the 1980’s, marsha became an outspoken and visible member of ACT-UP. she participated in the legendary protest on wall street against the high costs and inaccessibility of new HIV/AIDS medication.
marsha became an ancestor at the age of 46 on july 6, 1992. her body was found in the hudson river. her death was ruled suicide despite proof that she may have been a victim of anti-trans violence. 25 years later, the case was re-opened.
happy birthday, marsha! we will continue to speak your name and lift your legacy!
marsha p. johnson
august 24, 1945 - june 6, 1992
Emile Griffith was the epitome of a reluctant boxing superstar. After moving to New York from the Virgin Islands in the early 1950’s, went from hat factory worker to professional boxer in just a few short years.
On April 1, 1961, Emile stepped into the ring to fight reigning welterweight champion, Cuban fighter, Benny “Benny the Kid” Paret. Emile won the match by knockout. Their much anticipated rematch took place just months later on Sept. 30th. This time, Emile lost to Paret by split decision.
By their third match on March 24, 1962 at Maddison Square Garden, their rivalry reached a fever pitch.
During the weigh in of the match, Paret called Emile a “maricon” and laughed. While many were aware that Emile frequented gay bars, many in the boxing world did not speak about it. Remember, this was years before the Stonewall riots of 1969.
By the time the televised match entered its 12th round, and just seconds after the commentator remarked, “This is probably one of the tamest round of the fight.”, Emile backed Paret into a corner and struck him repeatedly in the head before the referee stopped the fight. Paret slowly collapsed against the ropes and lost consciousness. Paret died 10 days later.
As a result of the match, Emile was bombarded with death threats, a government committee was assembled to investigate the sport and boxing was pulled from television for almost a decade. The match would haunt Emile for the rest of his life.
Emile retired in the late 1970’s and became a boxing trainer before working as a correctional officer.
In 1990, Emile was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Two years later, Emile was viscously beaten by a homophobic gang after leaving a New York gay bar. He spent four months in the hospital.
In a sports illustrated interview before his death, he was quoted saying: “I like men and women both. But I don’t like the word: homosexual, gay or faggot. I don’t know what I am. I love men and women the same, but if you ask me which is better…I like women.”
Emile died on July 23, 2013.
Today, we remember and speak the name of a champion.
may 21 will mark the 40th anniversary of the white night riots that took place in san francisco in 1979 after dan white was sentenced to just 8 years in prison for the murder of mayor george moscone and supervisor harvey milk.
by the turn of the 1970’s, the castro district of san francisco had become a queer & trans utopia that provided a sense of sexual freedom, liberation, and self-realization. however, both local and national anti-gay legislation & sentiments were threatening that paradise.
in 1977, miss america runner-up & florida citrus orange juice “queen” lead a successful “save our children” campaign to overturn a dade county ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. that win launched a nat’l movement against the lgbtq community.
in 1978, harvey milk, the first out gay man to be elected to public office in CA, helped to get a non-discrimination ordinance signed in to SF law & was integral in mobilizing lgbtq folks and allies to shut down a statewide bill to ban gay teachers.
former cop dan white, who was elected to the SF board of supervisors the same time as harvey, was the only board member to vote against the non-discrimination bill. embarrassed and angered that his own bills failed, white resigned from his position on november 10, 1978.
in the following weeks, white reconsidered his decision and asked to be reappointed to his position. after being told during a radio interview that another person would be appointed to the board in his place, dan white set out to punish those he felt had humiliated him.
on the morning of november 27, 1978, dan white snuck into city hall through a side window & with a loaded 38 caliber smith & wesson, and traveled to city hall. walked into the office of mayor george moscone, an ally of harvey’s & shot him 4 times, 2 shots to the head.
as dan white rushed through the hall searching harvey milk, he stop to reload his gun. when he found harvey down the hall, white shot harvey 5 times, two times in the head. the murders shocked an already devastated city who that just beginning to process the jonestown massacre.
in may of 1979, white was tried for 2 counts of 1st degree murder. however, the mostly older white & working class jury delivered a guilty verdict of voluntary manslaughter w/ sentence of just 8 yrs. for gay community, this was further proof that the justice system was anti-gay.
thousands marched to city hall to protest the verdict. some held signs that read, “pity for the privilege, death penalty for the poor” and “white(s) get away with murder.” as the crowd grew, the pain and disappointment quickly turned into collective rage.
outnumbered by the gays, cops retreated as the gays rioted at city hall breaking windows. when things subsided, folks headed back to the castro district. in retaliation, police descended onto the castro and invaded a gay bar later that night.
police violently struck gay patrons. still filled with complete fury and disdain of the police state and justice system, the gays fought back and set police cars on fire. by the end of the night, dozens of police cars were set ablaze and 20 people were arrested.
the white night riots are an important chapter in queer history. on the night of may 21, 1979, the san francisco gays challenged the police state and defended themselves from police violence. they set the city on fire.
the following san francisco pride, marchers held signs that read “lesbians against police violence” & “end police violence.” cops were seen as a threat to queer liberation. later that year, in november of 1979, close to 100,000 people marched in support gay rights in DC.
the white night riots signaled a continued a trans & queer revolution that was ignited during the stonewall uprising 10 years earlier. pride marches were political and even more so just two years later when the aids epidemic began its assault on the queer community
sadly, in many ways, the aids epidemic truncated the revolution that we were on the brink of by stealing the lives of those who knew our liberation could never be realized under the police state.
BAN POLICE FROM PRIDE!
this pride season, may we all remember that the first pride was a riot. every culture shift for our basic human rights have been because of riots and direct actions. this year, honor black and brown trans women who rioted for us. remember the white night rioters by banning police
born on september 7, 1957, in columbia, ohio, jermaine, who was already a budding entertainer, got his first taste of fame when became a soul dancer after his family moved to chicago in 1972. jermaine became a local celebrity and when the show relocated to los angeles, jermaine, along with friend, jody watley followed.
by 1979, jody was scoring hits as part of the r&b group, shalamar. jermaine joined the group on tour as a background dancer and singer.
a chance meeting with boy george of culture club in 1983, not only resulted in jermaine providing backing vocals on the group’s top 10 hit, “miss me blind”, but the group financed jermaine’s demo that eventually landed him a deal with arista records
his debut single, the cheeky, “the word is out”, was released in 1984 and became a hit on the club circuit. it wasn’t until two years later with the release of his sophomore album, “frantic romantic”, that jermaine scored his biggest hit.
released in 1986, “we don’t have to take our clothes off” was touted by some as an “abstinence only” theme during a time when the country’s panic around hiv dominated prevention messaging. the song became a worldwide hit reaching top 5 in the united states, uk, germany and canada.
the follow-up single “jody” was inspired by his friend jody watley. while not a major cross-over hit, it did land at #9 on the dance chart in late 1986.
jermaine was able to bounce back in 1988, when “say it again", (still one of my fave pop songs of all time), peaked at #27 on the hot 100 and top 10 around the world. it was his last major hit before fading from the music scene in 1991.
on march 17, 1997, jermaine died of complications caused by HIV. he was just 39 years old. his burial site was left without a tombstone (it didn’t even have a grave marker) for over 17 years. jermaine finally received tombstone in 2014 after it was anonymously paid for by a fan.
jermaine, we remember you.
Today is World AIDS Day!
I wasn’t around when AIDS was known as GRID (gay related immunodeficiency). I wasn’t around when hospitals were stacked with sick and dying bodies because no one knew what to do. When the president at the time chose to ignore how this epidemic was effecting a particular demographic of this country.
I live in a time where PrEP and PEP make HIV not a big deal. Where random hookups are okay and my sexuality and identity as a gay man can fly freely. Where I am not tending to a dying loved one with lesions all over their body.
We are liable to forget this history because of our privilege. Today is not just a day to promote HIV testing and “remember” the ones who have died. Today is a day to remember that people were here and gone too soon. That people fought even when they were too weak to live. That the gay community was left to die and that people (gay and straight) fought back.
Today we remember those that have passed and we recognize them and the fact that their stories ended before they ever got a chance to start. We remember those who fought for the right to give us a fighting chance. We celebrate that we did not let them put us back in a closet. We appreciate the medical advancements and the lives it has saved. And we work so that we don’t ever have this kind of loss again.
To my generation and the generations to follow, please do not forget. This is a part of our rich and powerful history.
John Yates, New York, NY
the brilliant @queerxicanochisme just launched @chismologyanthology, a monthly interview podcast highlighting contemporary cultural creators. i am over the moon to be featured in the first episode. this conversation is without a doubt one of my most vulnerable. and that is because @queerxicanochisme created a space where i felt held, heard and loved. y’all should give it a listen!
sharing this episode and tagging @chismologyanthology gives you a chance to win a gran varones tshirt! so go follow and share!
it has been two years since christopher collins left this world. he was 37 years old. he was my first love and for years, my only love. he was an integral part of hiv prevention youth program development in philadelphia.
we met in the mid 1990s. we were a part of a group of black & brown queer & trans youth who were minding themselves. we didn’t have many mentors as most of the adults in our lives were either dying, caring for the dying or traumatized by the impact hiv/aids had on our community.
we were kids building rome with bricks cemented by our commitment to fuckin’ exist without apologies and shame. we bought our first rainbow necklaces together. we imagined a world for us that was yet to be written about in the books we read but we still imagined.
we both worked in hiv non-profit. that shit drained us both of life and spirit. we built programs that we had no access to. we gave the world everything including our relationship.
chris and i would work together again in 2012. we facilitated a weekly youth group for black & brown trans & queer youth. we joked about all that we survived. we cried about how the work & movement sometimes does not love you back.
chris wanted the movement and work to love him back. some of us learn to breathe through straws under the weight of the world that tells us we are not enough, our love is not enough. and some of us choose to fly in a dimension where oxygen is not restricted. chris chose the latter.
chris, the loss of your spirit is felt by those of us who survived hiv prevention of the 1990s. it is felt by those of us who continue to (barely) survive the non-profit industrial complex. your loss is felt by everyone who thought this work would save us.
chris was my first love. he was my friend. he was one of the most important relationships i had in this work. i miss his laugh. i miss him. today, i raise him up.
rest well, chris.
if you are feeling alone and/struggling right now, remember that lifeline is here for you. call the national suicide prevention hotline at 1.800.273.TALK (8255)
“The universe sends you your family. They are sent to us. We don’t pick them. We just love & nurture them…the children nurture us as well, just because we are elders doesn’t mean we can’t learn from the young.” hector xtravaganza, 2018
hector xtravanganza was a founding member of the house of xtravaganza and had been a member since 1982. he became an integral part of the house after founding house father hector valle aka hector xtravaganza died in 1985.
as hector’s profile grew in the ballroom scene, he would become much more than an influencer. he served as mentor, parent and teacher to countless black and latinx trans & queer young people in and out of the ballroom scene. most recently, he served as consultant and advisor for the hit television show “pose.”
this past october, hector and the entire house of xtravaganza was featured in a new york magazine article celebrating their resiliency and icon history.
in november of 2018, hector was included on poz magazine’s “the poz 100” list, a annual lists highlighting people living with hiv who are creating change in their communities. the profile celebrated his work and activism in hiv prevention and treatment access.
grandfather hector xtravaganza, who legally changed his last name to xtravaganza in the earlier 1990’s, because that’s what icons do, died on december 30, 2018. he was 60 years old.
rest in peace, hector. thank you for being a light during our darkest times and keeping the light on so that we all know where to go in the dark.