Photo Gallery: Charlotte celebrates Stonewall’s 50th anniversary
Charlotte Pride releases annual Stonewall Resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots & Uprising
[A photo gallery from the afternoon rally can be viewed at the bottom of this article.]
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hundreds of LGBTQ and ally community members gathered at Romare Bearden Park in Uptown on Saturday, June 15 for a commemorative rally to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots & Uprising. With two dozen speakers and performers, the rally focused on the impact of the historic June 1969 riots and protests against police brutality and anti-queer discrimination.
The Stonewall Riots & Uprising began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969 when officers with the New York Police Department raided the Stonewall Inn, an LGBTQ bar in the city’s Greenwich Village. While police raids of queer bars were relatively common, patrons at the Stonewall that evening revolted, resulting in a three-day riot. The first annual commemoration of the riot was held as the Christopher Street Liberation Day March in New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco on June 28, 1970. The riots and the resulting 1970 march and the establishment of several LGBTQ activist groups — including the Gay Liberation Front and Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) — are considered by many to be the initial spark of the modern LGBTQ Liberation Movement.
The rally, emceed by local drag entertainer and 2010 Miss Charlotte Pride Cierra Nichole, was opened by Charlotte Black Pride Treasurer Starr Johnson and Charlotte Pride President Daniel Valdez.
“We are gathered here today in honor of a momentous commemoration and celebration — five decades have passed since those fateful early morning hours of June 28, 1969 — the moment many have long considered the spark which ignited our modern Movement for LGBTQ Liberation,” Johnson told the assembled crowd, calling attention to the “brave and courageous brown and black people, transgender people, young folks, homeless people, sex workers, and other marginalized people who had called Stonewall their home.”
Valdez took time to recount the history of the movement since 1969, saying, “The last 50 years have been marked by beautiful triumphs and victories — advances in LGBTQ equality at nearly breathtaking speed. But we have seen loss, defeat, and sadness, too. Brutal discrimination and violence. Assassinations. A Great Plague that took far too many, far too soon. Hate crimes. Countless murders of trans women of color.”
But Johnson was sure to remind the audience that much work remains to be done for LGBTQ Liberation.
“To this day, we continue our fight — so that LGBTQ young people will feel safe in their schools, their places of worship, their communities, their homes — so that our transgender siblings, especially trans women of color, are free from violence,” Johnson said, continuing, “so that all of our people all across the globe may be fully Liberated and welcomed with all of their inherent worth and dignity in a world that too often remains violently opposed to our very existence.”
Speakers at the event included Charlotte City Councilmember LaWana Mayfield, the first openly LGBTQ elected official in Charlotte; local transgender advocates Kelli Baron of Transcend and Queer City Charities and the Rev. Debra Hopkins, the founding pastor of Essentials for Life Ministries; Candis Cox, a Raleigh-based transgender advocate and board member for the statewide Equality North Carolina; Calla Hales, director of A Preferred Women’s Health Center; and a host of other community leaders and community members, including: Darryl Logsdon, a member of the 1994 NC Pride March and Festival steering committee; youth advocate Alex Donatelli; MeckPAC Treasurer Mohammed Jibriel; Affirmation of York County, S.C., member Cameron Pruette; NC AIDS Action Network Policy and Communications Manager Christina Adeleke; #Fight4Her Charlotte Organizer Trey Gibson; and youth activists Kendrick Cunningham and Noah Ambrose.
Several speakers hit on similar topics, ranging from calls of “Black Lives Matter” and “Trans Lives Matter” to calls to safeguard and protect reproductive rights for all people.
Entertainment was provided by dance performer Nekeith and dance troupe Basic Instinct.
An evening nightlife party and celebration was held the same day at Bar Argon, featuring performances from local drag entertainer Brooklyn Dior and retro remixes of favorite dance hits from the ’60s through the present day.
Charlotte Pride board releases annual Stonewall Resolution
The Charlotte Pride Board of Directors approved their annual Stonewall Resolution in advance of the city’s 50th annual commemoration events.
The resolution follows below, and can be viewed as a PDF document here.
A RESOLUTION COMMEMORATING THE 50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE STONEWALL RIOTS & UPRISING OF JUNE 1969
Whereas, On June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village, members of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community took a nearly-unprecedented move against political, social, legal, and police oppression, resulting in the multiple-day Stonewall Riots and Uprising; and
Whereas, These community members — many of whom identified among the most oppressed and marginalized in our community, including transgender people, people of color, people experiencing homelessness, sex workers, and young people — summoned the courage and conviction to stand for the most timeless and cherished human values of freedom and liberation; and
Whereas, LGBTQ people across the United States first commemorated the Stonewall Riots & Uprising with the first Christopher Street Liberation Day March on June 28, 1970, and
Whereas, Each annual commemoration of this landmark uprising has thus inspired continued movement toward equality and inclusion, as well as the annual Pride festivals and parades celebrated across the globe each year today, including celebrations and commemorations in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, this year with special commemorations in June 2019, and with the Charlotte Pride Festival & Parade on August 17 and 18, 2019; and
Whereas, The LGBTQ community across the globe comes together in solidarity this year to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots & Uprising, including commemorations in Charlotte on Saturday, June 15, 2019;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: We, the members of the Board of Directors, Staff and Volunteers of Charlotte Pride, Inc., thoughtfully and intentionally set aside these special days on June 15, 2019, and on August 17 and 18, 2019, to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and Uprising; and
We reaffirm our commitment to the core mission, vision, and values which guide our organization and call us to continued efforts to more authentically represent and celebrate the people for whom the Liberation Movement was begun; and
We commit ourselves to the ever-evolving work of honoring the collective history and contributions of those who first initiated the Stonewall Riots and Uprising of 1969 and founded the resulting Liberation Movement.
PASSED THIS SIXTH DAY OF JUNE IN THE YEAR TWO THOUSAND NINETEEN BY THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF CHARLOTTE PRIDE, INC.
Daniel Valdez, President
Nan Bangs, Vice President
Brisa Ramirez, Secretary
R. Lee Robertson, Jr., Treasurer
Riley Murray, Director