The theme for RI Pride‘s 2015 celebration, suggested by Anthony Maselli, Mr. Gay Rhode Island 2014, was “IndiVISIBLE.” I’ll let Maselli explain it in his own words:
“Each year we are inching closer to full legislative equality. But legislative equality does not equal acceptance and it does not equal security. With the constant attacks around women’s rights, Transgender rights, racial disparity, HIV criminalization, immigrant’s rights, income inequality, poverty and homelessness, we need to wake up to the fact that marriage equality, while important, is in some respects just the shiny object that the government is dangling in front of us while leading us off the edge of a cliff.
“This is not our end game. It never has been.
“The term IndiVISIBLE was meant in part as a shout-out to the SCOTUS case, because when one hears the word ‘IndiVISIBLE’ one typically thinks of the phrase that follows it, ‘with liberty and justice for all.’
“But the teem IndiVISIBLE was also suggested to remind that without equal attention paid to all these other issues that affect us, without a shift of focus beyond marriage rights and onto a broader queer convergence movement, we really have nothing.”
Maselli’s words were just the beginning. He then introduced Josh Kilby, who began his talk with “Happy pride, comrades!” Kilby talked about the gains made in recent years by the LGBTQ community in terms of military service (unless you are Trans) but pointed out that the community “fought this battle without questioning the utter devastation the U.S. Empire causes around the world.”
The new frontier of the Queer rights movement, said Kilby, is that, “We stand in unconditional solidarity with ‘Black Lives Matter,’ for unrestricted, free abortion on demand and without apology, for free access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis to anyone who feels they need it and without judgement, and most importantly, we do not tolerate racism, sexism, transphobia in our community at all.”
R. (Ronald) Lewis, poet and performer, then delivered a blistering broadside, that has to be heard to be experienced. Lewis goes after capitalism, which, “commodifies the unconquerable” and he goes after the sanitized history of the Stonewall Riot, pointing out that Stonewall is now a place that celebrates “Gay” liberation without mention of, as Rachel Simon says in her piece, “Sylvia Riviera and Marsha P. Johnson, two trans women of color who were the first to resist arrest on the fateful night.”
When I first arrived at Pride, Anthony Maselli told me that I should be at the stage at 4:30, because he was part of a plan to “radicalize Pride.” It’s this next bit that stirred to crowd to wild cheers, and outraged protest. When Maselli said, “It’s time for us to dispel the bitter myth that we, (the queer community) are all men, all wealthy, and all white, because that is not the majority of who we are,” a man in the crowd shouted, without apparent irony, “That’s a lie! You don’t know what you’re talking about!”
“We are under attack,” said Maselli, “by the religious, cultural, economic and political right that targets LGBTQ people, women’s economic, reproductive and sexual freedoms, and is organized around a racalized notion of national culture. A religious freedom framework is being deployed to undermine all civil rights laws.”
Maselli asks, “Rhode Island has marriage, now where do we go from here?” and answers, “We are queering living wages, access to health care and transgender justice. Queering total immigration reform and ending incarceration. We are queering feminism, queering the way we talk about race, queering HIV activism, queering heteronormative ideas of marriage and couplehood, queerly engaging in radical protest, getting old queerly. We need to create a movement that says not only, ‘We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it’ but one that says “Join us, dream with us, dare with us, go for broke, and change the world.’
“What if IndiVISIBLE was more than just a word printed on a tee shirt, what if this was our queer vision for what we do next?”