‘We Are Here’ March Celebrates LGBTQ+ Pride Urges Liberation

‘We Are Here’ March Celebrates LGBTQ+ Pride Urges Liberation

In Brattleboro, a vibrant march took place to celebrate LGBTQ+ pride and advocate for the liberation of all individuals. HB Lozito, the executive director of Out in the Open, emphasized that their organization has historically organized marches in response to various events. Lozito addressed a crowd of over 70 people, highlighting the importance of creating a space that aligns with their values. “We always said if we’re going to do this, it had to be our way, and a liberation march is Out in the Open’s way,” Lozito stated.

Out in the Open is described as a multiracial, predominantly working-class movement-building organization that aims to empower rural LGBTQ individuals. The organization operates out of Brattleboro and Maine. The march, which took six months of planning with the help of volunteers, was a significant event for the community. Lozito expressed the joy and purpose behind the march, saying, “We just want to let people know we are here.”

Participants received maps highlighting local LGBTQ community spaces, both past and present, such as Everyone’s Book, Common Ground, Cahoots, Colors, Tinder Box, the Root Social Justice Center, and the AIDS Project of Southern Vermont. The goal is to make the march an annual event to address the challenges faced by the LGBTQ community. Benjamin Smith of Brattleboro pointed out the increasing conservative efforts to undermine LGBTQ rights, drawing parallels to the AIDS pandemic era when the queer community declared, “Silence equals death.”

One marcher, who preferred to remain anonymous, expressed confusion over the ongoing discrimination against LGBTQ individuals. “Genocide,” she remarked, “I don’t understand why it’s acceptable. People are people.” Jake McBride, a community organizer for Out in the Open, extended gratitude to the volunteers and staff who made the event possible. “A huge thanks to everyone for coming out in the rain,” he told the crowd.

A safety and de-escalation team ensured the group’s safe passage through various streets, encouraging participants to stop, dance, and celebrate at designated spots. Isaac Evans-Frantz, director of Action Corps, described the march as “historic.” He reminisced about growing up in Brattleboro without a Pride Parade or LGBTQ Liberation March, often feeling like an outsider. “It means so much to have this community gathering here, in Brattleboro, for our community to take up space and be together in public — where we have historically been excluded,” he said.

Evans-Frantz also highlighted the recent reminders of the dangers posed by White Christian Nationalism in the U.S., including Vermont. “It’s critical for us to stand up for one another,” he emphasized.

The march in Brattleboro is part of a broader movement across the country, where LGBTQ communities are organizing to assert their presence and demand their rights. In New York, the Queer Liberation March serves as a direct protest against corporate parades, harkening back to the Stonewall rebellion against police harassment. The march, organized by the Reclaim Pride Coalition, focuses on Black trans lives and police brutality, honoring figures like Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans woman and hero of Stonewall.

The New York march saw clashes with the NYPD, reminiscent of historical police brutality against the LGBTQ community. Protesters chanted “Let them go!” as police attempted to make arrests, leading to a tense standoff. Legal observers reported multiple arrests and instances of pepper-spraying. The NYPD’s response, which included physical force and the use of batons, underscored the ongoing struggle for queer liberation.

The Queer Liberation March aims to return the LGBTQ community to its roots in political resistance and rebellion, rejecting the commercialization of Pride. The marchers’ experiences with police brutality reinforced their commitment to a future where LGBTQ individuals are free from all forms of oppression. The vision of queer liberation extends beyond ending discrimination; it encompasses the abolition of oppressive systems, including the police.

The march in Brattleboro and similar events across the country highlight the resilience and determination of the LGBTQ community. Despite rising anti-LGBTQ legislation and sentiment, these marches serve as powerful reminders that the fight for liberation continues. The presence of diverse voices and the celebration of LGBTQ pride in public spaces are crucial steps toward achieving true equality and freedom for all.

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