Zeke Thomas explains what Gay Pride means to him

Marsha P. Johnson Sylvia Rivera

(From left to right) Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson (holding the umbrella), Jane Vercaine, Barbara Deming, Kady Vandeurs, Carol Grosberg at an April 1973 protest outside New York City Hall in support of Intro 475, a gay rights bill. Photo: Diana Davies/New York Public Library Digital Collection.

(For June, which is designated LGBTQ Pride Month, Q Voice News will feature a series of first person essays under the theme What Pride Means To Me. (Click the link to read other articles in the series.) This article is by Zeke Thomas, a DJ, music producer, sexual assault awareness activist, and TV Host. Happy Pride.)

Pride is a time for joy, for celebration, for remembrance. Pride is a time to be thankful for how far we’ve come together. Pride is about celebrating visibility.

However, I truly hope that one day we will no longer live in fear of being called “faggots” or “niggers” — two labels freely and publicly spewed at me earlier this month.

But Pride is a time that is full of hope for a future that one day equality will ring throughout all the lands.

New York City Pride

There is nothing like walking down Fifth Avenue in the New York City Pride Parade and seeing thousands of people screaming and putting their biases aside for a moment of pure bliss.

But we can never forget why we are celebrating.

This year, Gay Pride events are commemorating one of the most well-known riots against police harassment in our community. It took place at the Stonewall Inn in New York City 50 years ago, June 28, 1969.

Transgender activists Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera to be honored in monument

Marsha P. Johnson

An important figure in the riot was a transgender black woman, Marsha P. Johnson. I emphasize a transgender black woman in 1969. Black America had just received the right to vote, and in 1969, it was literally a crime to be gay.

Imagine the will and courage it took for people like Marsha P. Johnson to speak up for us.

I’ll never know what it was like to live in the shadows of society in the late 1960s. I can only speak to my own time. I’ve cheered every time progress has been made with laws and civil rights. We now enjoy the right to marriage. We’re seeing greater visibility in the media. We’re breaking boundaries all over the country.

Before Stonewall, the Black Cat in Silver Lake had LGBTQ protest

Transgender support

With the progress we have made and the love that is around us, we must continue to be awake and know that Pride is not a flag, or a political party. It’s a coming together celebration because we are individually and collectively amazing.

We still must fight for the rights of our transgender and gender-nonconforming brothers and sisters, particularly our sisters of color who continue to be murdered and silenced for being who they are.

We can’t let up. We must not lose sight of the progress we can make together. We must continue to work together until we are all free and equal.

Happy Pride, my brothers and sisters!

Follow Zeke Thomas on Instagram and listen to “Dealin With It” on Soundcloud.

About the author

Zeke Thomas

Zeke Thomas is a world renowned open format DJ and music producer, sexual assault awareness activist, and TV Host. His single, "Dealin' With It," is a coming to truth anthem about his being a rape survivor. Thomas is the first male spokesperson with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

Share This

Share this post with your friends!