On the first day of Pride month, yet another transgender asylum seeker died after neglect in ICE custody. Her name was Johana Medina Leon. On the same day, Chynal Lindsey, a 26 year young black trans woman was found murdered in Dallas. She is the 26th trans person to die from violence in the US so far this year – that we know of. All of this is just days before our community will honor the memory of the 49 lives stolen during the Pulse massacre on the 3rd anniversary of that horrific day in our history. The pain and anger welling up in our community is feeling for many as though it is too much to bear, too heavy to carry, and yet I know all too well the enduring strength of queer resiliency.
Stonewall wasn’t the first time police raided against our community, or the first time we fought back. Matthew Shepard wasn’t the first person to be killed because of his sexual orientation. Pulse wasn’t the first time violence was brought to one of our most cherished of safe spaces. The current administration isn’t the first to attack our community with discriminatory policies.
This is the fight that we are in. I know that many of us are tired. Many of us struggling simply to live in peace, and finding that pursuit of life and liberty harder at the intersections of multiple identities. How can we bring ourselves to forge justice or joy out of the foundries of violence and oppression?
When San Diego Pride was attacked with tear gas in 1999, we rinsed out our eyes and marched on. When we learned of Matthew Shepard’s murder, we took to the media and the halls of congress to tell our stories and pass new legislation. When our community was faced with the aftermath of Pulse, we took to the bars to show the world we would not live in fear.
Stonewall’s 50th anniversary is upon us, and as we turn to allow ourselves to celebrate and be celebrated, we can honor that our collective community action has bore those moments of triumph and joy out of the pain of trauma and violence. Our diversity is our strength. Our global network of LGBTQ and allied friends and family, communities and coalitions help us chart our path even in the darkest of times. This is our light of hope in the work towards a Legacy of Liberation.
Fernando Lopez is the Executive Director of San Diego Pride. Lopez’s years of LGBT advocacy, nonprofit management, public education, diversity consulting, media relations, guest lectures, and organizing have made him a consistent presence ensuring the struggles of the LGBT community are ever visible.