just scroll
Go to Issues

Trigger Warning

The writing, imagery, and other forms of expression below may contain explicit descriptions of rape, sexual assault, relationship abuse and other forms of personal violation as well as racist and sexist language, including both homophobic and racial slurs.

Dear Reader,

When MVMENT Magazine published its first issue more than two years ago, we did so at a time of turmoil on many high school and college campuses. Decades of unreported sexual assaults and damaging behavior on the part of faculty, administrators and peers left communities questioning where everything went wrong. MVMENT exists as a place to openly engage in these discussions, connecting students across the country with a shared mission: changing gender and sexuality dynamics in the places in which we study and live. We do this on our terms, as students. In this second volume, our vision remains the same. We have taken the past year to evaluate our place in this ongoing effort and bring you, our readers, an improved project, informed by everything we have learned along the way.

That evaluation led us to realize the importance in recognizing that no issue exists purely in a vacuum. While MVMENT focuses on sexism and LGBTQ±related topics, it would be irresponsible to act as though either idea, important as they may be, subsist separate from other problems that plague our society on the deepest level. Three weeks ago, on May 25, 2020, police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of George Floyd for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, suffocating him. Since then, the United States and countries across the globe have protested Floyd’s brutal killing and the country’s immense disregard for the sanctity and safety of Black lives. Many are calling for city governments to defund their police departments, in an effort to end police brutality and allocate the billions of dollars spent nationwide on policing to neighborhood initiatives. The Black Lives Matter movement is in full swing, and we are here to lend our support, our voices and our platform to furthering its goals. There are a multitude of intersections between Black Lives Matter and MVMENT’s content—it is our responsibility to ensure that such intersectionality is not forgotten, with or without national protests.

We must also recognize that no form of oppression ceases when another comes under scrutiny. With the country-wide unrest as a backdrop, the Trump Administration announced that it is rolling back Obama-era protections for transgender rights. The Department of Health and Human Services will once again be defining “gender” as biological sex—effectively defining transgender and gender non-binary individuals out of legal existence. Trump did so on the anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting, one in which members of the LGBTQ+ community were specifically targeted. With Volume 2, we aim to recognize not only the struggles of those currently in the spotlight, but to ensure that action continues even after the attention passes; so, we hope to bring awareness to the injustices occurring against the transgender community as well as the Black community, and shine a light on the overlaps between the two.

As MVMENT enters this next phase, we rely as ever on our community and readership to help us on the way. As we rebuild, we need talented high school and college students with creative passion and a belief in our ability to change our surroundings to get involved; you have always been the foundation of this magazine. And on behalf of our entire team and those who have contributed their time, resources, and experiences, do not stop fighting, do not stop protesting, and do not stop learning. Our work does not end here and neither does yours.

Read. Engage. Discuss. This culture can only survive in silence.

Yours truly,

Vinayak Kurup
Editor In Chief

by Sarah Libby

by Sarah Libby

Between Bodies

personal story

by Janalie Cobb

I am black. I’m confident, proud and unshakeable in my blackness. But there is no mistaking—I’m also white. My skin is light; my hair is curly, not kinky; I inherited the shape of my face and curve of my smile from my very Irish mother. I’m also confident, proud and unshakeable in my multiracial identity. So I’ve known the meaning of inner turmoil since I was nine years old and I first heard the names Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.

For me, being biracial inherently means living between two worlds, worlds that clash constantly. When my BIPOC (Black, Indigenous People of Color) friends talk about race wars and race riots, part of me shuts down. I twirl my Irish claddagh ring around my finger and suppress the white. I hope my hair looks kinkier than normal and my skin darker, for fear that they may look at me and see an outsider: someone who can never fully understand their pain and anguish because my whiteness, while only half, shields me from the depths of danger and despair that come with being fully black. When I visit my mother’s family, I hope they simply see their relative. I silently plead that they leave the microaggressions at home, that they see me not simply as a black person, but as their black family member. Someone they love. But I can never fully suppress either half of me in either instance. Wherever I go, whatever I say, I hold the shadows of my white mom and my black dad behind me, constantly reminding me of where I come from.

I have a memory of having a conversation in my fourth grade classroom with another student about Trayvon Martin. I don’t recall much about it, but I do know one thing about the conversation very clearly: my naturally thick and curly hair, a mix of my black and Irish heritage, had been straight-ironed and then curled. This small fact is incredibly significant. I didn’t yet understand what it meant to want straight hair; I didn’t know it was ingrained anti-blackness. But I begged for it. Day after day until I was nine years old, I pleaded with my parents to let me straighten my hair. When they finally did, I pleaded with my parents to let me curl it again. Like the white girls did.

My internal conflicts don’t just focus on being biracial. Growing up as the only biracial woman in my own life, I had no direction. No one to teach me what it meant to navigate a woman’s life between white and black, balancing stereotypes of extreme fragility and weakness against stereotypes of unrelenting anger and sexual promiscuity.

And so, when I learned of George Zimmerman’s brutal, racially driven killing of Trayvon Martin, it was against a backdrop of figuring out my racial identity in the context of my gender. While I no longer strive for stick-straight hair, I what it means to be a biracial woman is still not clear.

When riots broke out across the United States over the unjust murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, it wasn’t long before people started questioning why so few remembered Breonna Taylor’s name. Or Atatiana Jefferson. Or 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones. Why didn’t black women receive the same outrage, the same riots, as black men when killed by the police? Why were black women continually overlooked?

I had another question. Did I have the right, through all of these protests, to express outrage as a black woman? I am black, and I am proud. But I have immense light-skinned privilege. Within the black community and without, my whiteness forces me onto a higher pedestal than dark-skinned women. I’m less likely to be considered angry and dangerous, more likely to be considered attractive. My hair twirls around itself like a corkscrew, with a visible, obvious curl that tells the world I’m not fully black. My face is angular, like my mother’s, instead of round, like my father’s. I can tan, and I can burn. The world knows I’m not fully black. This is my new inner turmoil.

Of course I will be outraged no matter what. Whether as a black woman, a white woman, or a biracial woman, I am full of anger. It’s not okay that police officers kill over one thousand people a year. It’s not okay that police officers provoke, mace, beat and arrest peaceful protestors. More than that, it’s unjust. But to say, throughout all of these protests, that I’m not terrified about whether or not other black women would accept me should a race war truly break out, would simply be false. With my hair too loose and my skin too light, it’s always a guess whether or not the people around me agree that I’m truly a black woman.

I still have no one in my life to help me navigate these questions. Unlike my brothers, who don’t look mixed, my father can’t teach me what it means to be a multiracial woman. He can’t guide me through the protests and teach me how to talk to police if I’m ever pulled over, because the world will perceive me—a small, light-skinned young woman—far differently than it does him—a large, dark-skinned middle-aged man.

And so I go through life blind. No usher to direct me to my identity, no pilot to fly me from point A to point B. Without the international black lives matter protests, I swim through oceans of microaggressions and sideways looks, trying to find where I fit in the worlds in which I live. In the backdrop of the international Black Lives Matter protests, I’m not sure I can swim anymore, and I may just drown.

I’m positive I’m a woman; I’m positive I’m black; I’m positive I’m white. What I’ve never been sure of, and what I may never be sure of, is what it means to be all of those things, at once.

No Justice No Peace


by Faith Lasley

This painting is a depiction of the recent protests and riots in the name of the Black Lives Matter movement and against the racial bigotry of the American police system. It is a celebration of the bravery that is being displayed by crowds across the nation, and was made to honor the people of color in America and across the world who have been abused and oppressed for far too long. We stand with them.

My Right to Exist

personal story

by Matthew Wabunoha

George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin eight years ago. At the time, I didn’t understand why my mom mandated watching only CNN and ABC, nor did I understand why she burst into tears when the jury declared Zimmerman not guilty. Kids die all the time, I thought. How was this different from the creepy Dateline stories we all watched on weekends?

After switching schools in second grade, in one of my first gym classes, one of my classmates called me a slave. I notified the teacher, they called his parents, and the boy started crying. His mom consoled him. I didn’t cry. In fact, it didn’t bother me until I started high school. Throughout middle school, I was one of five Black kids in my grade. The town was 93% white. So, every time the Black history substitute came in, it was “Hey Matt, is that your dad?” Every time I won a breakaway in lacrosse I ran “like a Kenyan,” but I was still the “whitest Black person” they knew because I got good grades and spoke “like a white person.”

In high school, I joined the Afro-Latinx society. I went on a trip to visit the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama my sophomore year. I started to pay attention to the way I navigate the world as a Black man, and get a better sense of just how intimate a relationship race and gender have with the foundation of our nation. In high school, I became increasingly passionate about learning and fighting for the rights of the marginalized, and was so excited about my newfound knowledge that I loved getting into debates, challenging my ability to defend what I knew was true with those whose thoughts differed from mine. For a while, I strove for that. But I continued to read, argue, read some more, and argue some more, and I realized how ridiculous my conversations were becoming. I was defending my right to live. My right to play with a toy in public, to sleep in my bed, to walk back home and not get shot. My right to exist as a Black man in the United States. Things that should never be up for debate.  As Black children, we’re forced to grow up faster than our peers; research published by the American Psychological Association shows Black boys are more likely to be mistaken as older than they actually are, and more likely to be seen as guilty by a jury when charged with a crime. So, when the white kid in your dorm feels it’s their place to spark a debate with you questioning the innocence of police brutality victims, or dorm faculty squint and call you “guilty,” as though you’ve committed a crime, every time you check in, you don’t feel the same desire to have a conversation with them. You grow tired. Tired of perpetuating debates over the freedoms of those who look like you. Tired of educating those who don’t wish to be educated, but aim to justify systemic abuse. To Black men like me, and our Black siblings: it’s not your job to educate your peers, and do not let anyone make that your job. If it’s emotionally draining, or just plain repetitive, to explain to people why your life deserves to be treated with the bare minimum decency, take care of yourself. If they want to learn, they will, but if they don’t, they won’t––and THAT is never on you.

Healing Justice, Healing People


by Paul James

Where do queer and trans people of color go when the mental health system lets them down? Erica Woodland, founder of the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN), hopes they find a community built on healing justice.

“We know that most of our healing and mental health support is accessed outside of the traditional system because the systems are harmful and not accessible due to cost and other issues,” he says. Instead, NQTTCN exists to connect Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPoC) to mental health practitioners who operate in an entirely different way than the ordinary medical industrial complex. While other organizations have attempted to compile directories of Black therapists, they often include allied practitioners. NQTTCN offers the only directory of solely QTPoC mental health practitioners across the country. “Practitioners are really isolated. People want to be a part of something where they can connect with other people who have a similar experience, who have a similar set of values,” Woodland says. “I think we are an important bridge to make that connection.”

With decades of experience organizing around harm reduction, HIV/AIDS, the prison industrial complex and more, Woodland says, “I’ve always done a mixture of advocacy and organizing and direct care.” The same combination applies to NQTTCN, an organization guided by the belief that personal struggles in the community are inextricably linked to broader trends.

During his work with the Brown Boi Project, Woodland says, “I got to support a lot of folks in their leadership development and then just saw a level of mental illness, mental health crisis that people were experiencing as part of their daily life.” After years of suggesting that someone build a national network to address these crises, Woodland took on the project himself. He says, “I founded the organization really as a passion project and as a chance for myself to be less isolated as a practitioner, orienting around a certain set of values.” Overwhelming community response turned his passion project into a full-fledged organization.

NQTTCN goes beyond connecting practitioners to those in need of help; it defines itself according to a unique framework of healing justice. “We sit at this intersection of mental health and the broader liberation movements in our country,” Woodland says. That awareness means the organization follows a radical approach that addresses mental health issues in context and mobilizes QTPoC therapists to social and political action.

Woodland describes healing justice as a political and spiritual framework grounded in historical liberation movements and intergenerational trauma “that really looks at how structural violence is at the root of a lot of our suffering.” Woodland, a Black, queer, genderqueer practitioner with twenty years of activism and healing experience, knows firsthand what that structural violence looks like. The same structural inequity permeates mainstream approaches to mental health. He says the field generally begins with the approach that “you have a personal problem that needs to be fixed, instead of looking at the conditions in which that problem originated.”

Honoring spiritual and cultural healing traditions of its communities also contributes to the organization’s distinctive method. Recognizing the benefits of peer-led healing as well as personal spiritual practice in addition to therapy by QTPoC practitioners comprises its adaptive and layered framework. Woodland says, “It allows us to interface with the mental health system but not be of that system.”

Even with the network providing national access, Woodland recognizes that there are other barriers for those seeking mental health help. “For us this is also an economic justice question. Therapy is really important, but it’s a huge expense to put on an individual,” he says. In response, NQTTCN offers a mental health fund, to which QTPoC can apply when they need coverage. The fund, fueled by community donations and NQTTCN funders, covers up to $100 per visit over six visits. Given the high costs of therapy, Woodland recognizes that this may be a drop in the bucket for some. Nonetheless, QTPoC therapists in particular already do a lot of pro-bono or low-fee work, according to Woodland, who adds, “Even if you can find a QTPoC therapist, a lot of us don’t take insurance because of the structural issues in healthcare or might not take this specific person’s insurance.” The fund, which reopened this month, strives to alleviate as much of this burden as possible.

The mainstream mental health system throws up barriers not only for those seeking help, but also for practitioners like those who form the network. In addition to facing entrenched white supremacy and intense queer- and transphobia in the workplace, Woodland says, “We’re being asked to work in ways that are not aligned with our values.” With NQTTCN, practitioners are able to focus on the political and social contexts of their clients and rely on a range of approaches in addition to traditional psychotherapy. When he used to work in institutions, Woodland was often tokenized and assigned all QTPoC clients; little has changed in the system since.

Now, QTPoC practitioners are up against additional demanding challenges. The dual impact of COVID-19, which disproportionately affects Black people in the United States, and the recent killings of Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery (to name a few), leaves QTPoC therapists in a difficult position of serving their communities and caring for themselves. “We were already under attack before COVID-19 and before these mass uprisings across the country, but now therapists are holding together the emotional and spiritual wellbeing of a lot of people who are protesting,” Woodland says.

At the same time, mental health practitioners are personally affected as well and can have difficulty finding an outlet. Woodland says, “If you’re a therapist, you can’t really talk about your work openly because of confidentiality, and a lot of the work you’re doing is really intense, and you can’t just talk about that flippantly.” To heal the healers, too, NQTTCN creates practitioner support spaces, where members can reflect on their work and devise strategies for coping, all to “ensure that we have what it takes for the long haul, because things are going to get worse before they get better,” Woodland says.

Part of the strain comes from the heavy involvement of Black queer and trans people in organizing such movements. “Our contemporary movements that are directly related to changing the conditions of Black people’s experience are led by us, so we’re there, and we’re at the forefront of articulating what needs to happen,” Woodland says. He acknowledges that queer- and transphobia causes some people to ignore this reality: “People are now saying Breonna Taylor’s name, but people are still not saying Tony McDade, so what does it mean to support a deeper, intersectional analysis of what’s happening right now?” Woodland says that to ignore some of these lives and the massive debt owed to Black queer and trans activists is to ignore an essential component of the history of these liberation movements.

Reflecting on the historical precedent, he says, “I think there’s something extremely special about this moment. And I also think it’s the result of many decades of organizing.” The roots for this collective action extend back half a century, but the perfect storm of time, dedication and unity sets this year apart. “Certain conversations where I was banging my head against the wall ten years ago people are now open to,” he says. With most people isolated at home, they are more able to learn and pay attention. The problems are visible and inescapable. Woodland says, “The usual suspects are suffering, but more people who just could ignore structural violence and inequality are now suffering.”

Of course, no amount of progress is an excuse to become complacent. Woodland says, “I think what comes out of this moment is going to be determined by what we do. It’s only a portal for transformation in a good way if we do the work.” He hopes that cities across the country follow the lead of Minneapolis and Los Angeles in re-evaluating their police forces and begin to take action around defunding the police and addressing mass incarceration. He warns of the danger of people not engaging with these concepts, saying, “The conditions are capitalizing on us not understanding something as basic as intersectionality or white supremacy.”

One of Woodland’s personal goals for the future of NQTTCN is connecting to even more care-providers. He points to informal mental health support on the part of university campus workers and leaders of LGBT centers as huge sources of potential. “We know that people are practicing in a lot of different contexts even if they don’t have training because of the need,” Woodland says.

“What’s in the future for us is really starting to solidify our field-building strategy and getting super clear about what it means to build a movement of radical QTPoC psychotherapists who are transforming the mental health system,” he says. “Part of what we know is that we first have to find each other, get connected and build that trust.”

To find out more about NQTTCN, visit https://www.nqttcn.com/about-us
To donate to the mental health fund, visit https://www.mightycause.com/story/2m3omf

Marsha P. Johnson


by Faith Lasley

Marsha P. Johnson was a black trans woman who may have thrown the first brick at the stonewall riot, a pivotal and historic moment in queer history. She was a symbol of strength and empowerment in the LGBTQ+ movement. This portrait honors her in light of pride month and the recent protests fighting for black lives.

Defining Allyship


by Jacob Zimmerman

Because I am white, my experiences make no difference to Black Lives Matter. Because I am white, Black Lives Matter is about my behavior. Because I am white, I must understand that the Black Lives Matter movement is not a Black problem that requires my sympathy, but a universal problem that requires my action. It’s my responsibility to leverage my privilege to support the imperative to dismantle systemic racism—to be an ally of the anti-racism movement.

An effective ally is active. White supremacy preserves racial oppression through a deeply rooted delusion that people with white skin are inherently superior to all other peoples, especially Black people. White supremacy is not, however, always as blatant as society considers it to be. It’s subtle—often not KKK rallies and displays in white coats, but calling braids on Black women, and afros on Black men unprofessional. It’s small, and it’s quiet. As white people, we must commit to recognizing and unlearning the profound, ingrained biases that maintain this delusion. Don’t expect your Black friends to educate you—this is your own responsibility. Without fulfilling this commitment, we cannot be effective allies to the anti-racism movement.

Now: effective allyship is a matter of seeking and spreading education. Effective allies must start with their own personal lives and work outwards. Look inward—analyze your own biases and preconceptions, and begin dismantling them. Understand that you will mess up, and then you’ll mess up more. As you continue to learn, work to spread education within your social spheres, starting from your neighbors. Promote the dialogue. Promote the critical idea that discussing race is not racist;1 being “color-blind” is not the goal—ignoring race is racist.2 Read and recommend writing and media by Black authors about racial difference and disparity, privilege, white supremacy, and how to be anti-racist.3,4 These books have always been here, and these problems have always been here, so start reading—that’s the most important part of reading lists.5 Don’t omit the intersectionality of racial identity and other identities,6 an integral part of understanding racism.7

Further, an effective ally encourages other people to become allies. But they don’t do so by defining allyship; they promote allyship by invoking empathy. An optical ally is not actually an ally.8,9 Discussing with them what effective allyship looks like can simply aggravate polarization, since they’re likely not invested in allyship. But if you invoke the humanity of the people suffering to evoke this person’s empathy, you can aim to persuade them that they should be an ally.

But ultimately, an effective ally is not too active. As white people, we must not forget that racism does not oppress us; we do not share the racial oppression that people of color have long experienced. It would be foolish—harmful, in fact—to act as though we can ‘fix’ racism. We will never ourselves understand how racism manifests throughout the lives of Black people and other people of color, and the anti-racism movement is primarily a work of the struggle and efforts of people of color, not us. We therefore must not dominate anti-racist discussion as a white savior. Don’t be a white savior. This does not mean, however, that we should not put in work. Instead, effective allies work to listen and use their privilege to support, encourage, and amplify anti-racism discussion, broadcasting the messages of Black leaders to reach more people.

Ally is not an identity, but it is defined by an active practice of allyship. To become an ally, you must do the work of allyship, listening to the conversation to learn how you can best lend your privilege. Then, if you are recognized by BIPOC as an ally, you are an ally. Now learn, unlearn, listen, and amplify—your work is only just beginning.


Some resources on effective allyship:

Close to Home


by Vinayak Kurup

I. Some Background

When police raided the Stonewall Inn in 1969, they beat up patrons and arrested employees and people guilty of cross-dressing. Increasingly agitated by police harassment and social discrimination, angry patrons formed a crowd outside the bar, watching as police led the thirteen individuals from the bar to the cop cars outside. But when an officer hit a lesbian woman over the head as he forced her into the cruiser outside, she cried out to the crowd, “Why don’t you guys do something?”

People listened. They began to throw pennies, bottles, cobblestones and other objects at the police. Within minutes, the Stonewall Riots had begun. Over the next six days, thousands would take to the streets, galvanized by action. Today, the Stonewall Riots are celebrated as one turning point in the long, arduous fight for LGBTQ+ equality. President Barack Obama declared the site of the riots a national monument in 2016, and every year thousands assemble to commemorate the legacy of those six days. At the time, however, the rioters faced widespread dissent across the nation, vicious media coverage and even disagreement within the gay community.

II. Wendy’s

Nick Valencia is reporting live from the Wendy’s in Atlanta. My dad and I sit on the couch, watching the building in front of which Rayshard Brooks was shot by police. It’s engulfed in fire. The screen pans from shaky cell-phone footage to a wide-angle helicopter shot, and that’s when I notice how big the charcoal plumes of smoke are, coming from the building. Valencia tells us that protestors have blocked off the highway as well. My dad sits there and shakes his head.

“Going to hell.” I’ve heard many people—friends and family, newspapers and television anchors—say the same thing about what they see today. And I am conflicted. The unrelenting voices of protestors have assured the arrest of the officers responsible for killing George Floyd; they have sparked conversations about defunding and dismantling police departments. They continue to demand justice for those names the headlines miss: Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Riah Milton, Dominique Rem’mie Fells. It seems that today, with a fresh, national spotlight on racism and police brutality , we are on a path towards equality and greater opportunity for Black people and other people of color. And yet, there are many of our friends and family who may post a black square on their Instagram feed and publicly proclaim that “Black Lives Matter” when questioned but don’t understand the necessity of the discomfort that many of us are currently facing. We shouldn’t want life to go back to “normal.”

My parents fall firmly within that category. I don’t say that to throw them under the bus or to frame them as heartless; in fact, my father cares about people to a fault. But when my mother hears about another killing of an unarmed Black man on the news, she isn’t galvanized into action, and she doesn’t crack open Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. Instead, she furrows her brow, purses her lips and worries that the world will change. Because she and my father, like many other parents, siblings and friends who are first-generation immigrants, are unknowingly perpetuating racism. It’s not the overt, confederate flag-sporting kind; it’s much more subtle, ingrained after centuries of neocolonialism and decades of assimilation. It’s a side effect of the American myth, and it results in a dangerous form of inaction.

III. Skinny brown boy

My father came to this country when he was twenty-one for a master’s program at the University of Connecticut. He was short, 5’ 6” on a good day, and at 120 pounds the football players down the hall would lift him up with one hand behind their back as a party trick. He had a thick Indian accent, a bushy moustache above his top lip and had only heard about American life from stories and television. He had spent two decades almost exclusively studying, first to get a chance at college and then to beat out thousands of other students to even make it into an American program. So he stayed under the radar, laughed along as jokes were made at his expense and trusted what he was told. After all, there were thousands clamoring for his spot, and he wasn’t about to mess that up. As the years went on, his dream conformed to the American dream; he found himself with the suburban house, a yard and friendly neighbors with a dog.

My parents, like many first-generation immigrants, were taught to keep out of trouble, believe what they observed and do what’s necessary to be good at their jobs. But even now, after they’ve built a reputation and climbed corporate ladders, those years of “keep your head down” don’t just slip away. In their eagerness to build a better life for themselves and their families, many first-generation immigrants who now hold positions of influence and power sit idly by. It isn’t that they don’t care, it isn’t that they’re callous to the needs of others, but their entire notion of success has been built on conformity to the rules set by white men centuries before.

IV. Proximity

In his TED Talk, “We Need to Talk About Injustice,” civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson states that to solve problems, we have to get proximate. It’s a simple idea, but a profound one nonetheless: to create meaningful solutions you have to be close to them, you have to understand them. By extension, legislators and change-makers have to either be close to the issues themselves or, at the very least, surround themselves with individuals who are close to the problem at hand. Instead, it is usually straight, white men who write legislature about women’s reproductive rights, oil magnates who strip away environmental policy and police unions who decide the worth of a Black person’s life.

Proximity is a struggle for people like my parents as well. We live in a suburb ten minutes from a Trader Joe’s, I had weekly tennis lessons as a kid and I went to a prestigious boarding school in New England. When I got into a fender-bender a year ago, I wasn’t worried that I might lose my life; in fact, I never even had to exit my car. My family friends rarely go into the city; in fact, they are afraid to go into the city. They’ve been told that E. 55th is dangerous and most of the people living on that street are Black, they see mugshots of people convicted of crimes, and those people are Black. When the American dream you know from movies and television is mostly white, you unwittingly begin associating the negatives with the skin color. And as you avoid the areas you need to see and the people you need to meet, the problem becomes increasingly distant. Distance does not lead to action.

While this is not the only immigrant experience, it is important to recognize that shedding ingrained racism must be an active process.

V. Together

Back to Stonewall. According to Mark Segal, a witness to the riots and founder of the first New York City pride march, the Stonewall Riots led to a prolific shift in the demographics surrounding LGBTQ+ activism. “Before Stonewall, you had organizations that only allowed white people who were properly dressed to ‘represent’ the [gay] community,” Segal said. After Stonewall, however, organizations began accepting people into the organization from all races, political viewpoints, and gender identities. The face of gay rights was no longer white.

If you type “Stonewall” into Google though, you’ll be greeted by a custom pride-flag that spans the top of your browser. The Stonewall Riots have endured as a turning-point in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. But this cheery appearance belies the intensity of their struggle and glosses over the huge backlash these protestors faced from all directions. Newspapers ran headlines like “Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Are Stinging Mad” and articles that referred to the Stonewall Inn as a place where “they could congregate, drink, dance and do whatever little girls do.” Gay men were referred to as “faggots” and the lesbian woman who cried out as she was beaten was referred to as, “the dyke who police had difficulty keeping in a patrol car.”

Race and LGBTQ+ activism have been inextricably linked for decades. As the national conversation shifts to discuss entrenched racism and inequality, we remember that today’s LGBTQ+ rights would be nonexistent without the involvement of people of color. And we can no more talk about race without also paying attention to the history of gender and sexual expression. When the attention fades, it is up to students to continue learning and making sure that the history of today is not over-simplified.

When we march and shout the names of those killed, we have to remember not to leave any out. The faces of Black Lives Matter are varied; they include gay and lesbian and trans and queer people of color and so many others. So, please, don’t stop here. Don’t let this be the conclusion. Don’t forget their names.

Illustration by Faith Lasley