A chorus of “transphobia has got to go” rose from a group of about 40 marchers as they began climbing up Merrill hill after a windy stop in Cowell. Organizers worked to make Pride more accessible this year, swapping out less accessible pickup trucks for a more accessible disability service van.
The 13th annual Kresge Pride on May 12 started with a two-hour march that gathered about 100 participants by the time it arrived at Kresge College. Kresge Pride invited many clubs and organizations to table at the three-hour event, including Theta Pi Sigma, the first queer and trans Greek chapter in the country. Upstairs in Kresge room 321, Pride featured a space for queer and trans people of color (QTPOC).
This year’s theme, “Stonewall was a Riot,” drew attention to the radical roots of Pride festivals, offering a space centered around the transformative history of LGBTQIA+ activism, said Sasha Landau, head coordinator of Pride for the Kresge Multicultural Education Committee.
“There are a lot of Pride events that are very corporate or all about having the biggest party,” Landau said. “The first Pride march happened at the first anniversary of Stonewall, we wanted to bring the event to honor a space for the strength and resilience of queer folks who […] experience a lot of this violence and oppression every day.”
The Stonewall Riots started in June 1969 when police raided an inn known for having trans and queer patrons who were predominantly people of color.
“It’s important to remember the trans community, trans women of color faced so much violence and there are a lot of issues in the LGBTQ community that are not just about marriage equality,” attendee Fatima Hussain said.
Kresge Pride marcher Rosa Scupine carried a sign which read “Her name was Marsha P. Johnson and don’t fucking forget it,” referring to the activist credited with fighting against police brutality during the Stonewall Riots.
Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, two trans women of color, started Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, or STAR, after the riots. The two were some of the leading marchers in the first Pride Parade that took place one year after the Stonewall Riots.
“Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were the true pioneers of the revolution,” said LA-based community organizer and opening speaker Jennicet Gutiérrez, in a speech at Kresge College. “They were both radical, they were both revolutionaries and we should not let these mainstream organizations forget about that and become more corporate.”
Known for getting thrown out of the White House for heckling former President Obama about his deportation policy, Gutiérrez is also an organizer for Familia Trans Queer Liberation Movement. This organization works toward achieving the collective liberation of trans, queer and gender non-conforming Latinx people.
Gutiérrez said the theme “Stonewall was a Riot” was part of what drew her to the Kresge Pride event, her second speaking engagement at UC Santa Cruz. She stressed the need to continue fighting against the violence inflicted upon the most marginalized of the LGBTQIA+ community every day, especially the issues Black trans women, trans immigrants and undocumented people are facing.
“When I heard about the main theme, ‘Stonewall was a Riot,’ I was like ‘Why was a riot? Why isn’t it still a riot?’” Gutiérrez said. “It should still be [a riot], we should still be rocking the boat, we should still be taking spaces, disrupting, because that has been the history of our resistance.”