Through the 1960s as homophile organisations started to form in defence of queerfolk, the community which was only just forming began to fracture. Societies like the Mattachine wanted to present an assimilationist approach to queer emancipation, representing the white, middle class, straight-passing men who politicians and lawmakers would relate to and find most sympathetic. It wasn’t these men, however, that were being targeted by the police and rounded up by the dozen, but the butch women, effeminate queens, cross-dressers, and trans*folk who were the most visible and obvious targets for prosecution, and the easiest to turn into folk devils and scapegoats. It’s no surprise it was those members who first fought back and put queer emancipation on the political agenda.Today we have a better understanding of variant sexual and gendered orientations, but it is still the most visible members of the community which are deliberately targeted — trans*women of colour have a life expectancy of 35 in the United States because they are so marginalised by society that their bloody and untimely deaths have become commonplace. With the recent successes when it comes to (assimilationist) gay rights such as marriage, the right wing has concentrated its ire on the most visible segment of the queer community. Organisations with political clout, such as the Human Rights Campaign, still follow that assimilationist, white middle class male model which throws other queerfolk under the bus. (In an internal report, HRC actually failed to meet its own equality standards when it came to the treatment of its trans* and female employees, and people of colour.)
Pride is a celebration of the entire queer community, in all its vibrant glory, and at its heart, commemorating as it does those first few who struck back against the police at Stonewall — the drag kings and queens, the trans*women, the homeless street kids — it is a celebration of the most visible, the most vibrant, and the most vulnerable queerfolk out there.