As they reflect on their own fight for equal rights, members of Ohio's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning or queer community are standing with people fighting for racial justice.
June is Pride Month, which was born out of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York. Grant Stancliff, communications manager with Equality Ohio, explains there were six days of demonstrations, protesting discrimination against LGBT individuals and the persistent police raids of bars and clubs frequented by members of the gay community.
"In particular, LGBTQ people of color said, 'No more,'" says Stancliff. "They fought back. They stood up to the police. They said that, 'This is our space, and we aren't going to take this harassment and bullying anymore.'"
Members and leaders of civil-rights organizations, including Equality Ohio, have signed a pledge to oppose racism and white supremacy and to take action in supporting the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Meanwhile, many Pride Month activities have been canceled or delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other events have shifted to virtual forums, including Equality Ohio's 15th anniversary celebration on Friday, June 26.
Stancliff says the current uprising sparked by the death of George Floyd requires a commitment to embrace anti-racism as a crucial component in achieving full equality for LGBTQ people. He adds it's calling the need for many systems and institutions into question.
"For our community, the issue of police violence is paramount, it's urgent and it's deadly," says Stancliff. "We know that LGBTQ people are over-represented the criminal justice system, particularly LGBT people of color. And at this moment in time, it's really a matter of life and death."
Stancliff notes that advocates continue to work on policies that support equality, including The Ohio Fairness Act - HB 369 and SB 11. The bipartisan legislation would provide protections for LGBTQ residents in employment, housing and services.