About a hundred people marched through streets in Lake View on June 12 to call attention to social-justice issues affecting LGBTQ+ people while centering the Black trans community.
"Some people don't understand. They're, like, 'Why such a focus on Black trans women? What about me?' Like, we'll get to you," said protest organizer and drag queen Jo MaMa. "You know why? Black trans women are the most afflicted, the most underserved in our community. When we solve the problems of Black trans women, we solve the problems of everyone."
The Chicago Reclaim Pride Marcha combination of racial justice demonstrations Drag March For Change and Pride without Prejudicebegan near the Belmont L station. Then, protestors marched to the AIDS memorial garden where community leaders from various LGBTQ+ organizations shared speeches.
Speakers discussed gun violence, police brutality, HIV/AIDS cases in the city, the recent murders and deaths of Black trans women across the country, abortion-rights access and laws designed to hurt LGBTQ+ youth, among other things.
Standing in front of the Keith Haring statue in the AIDS Memorial Garden, program director of Taskforce Prevention and Community Services Reyna Ortiz said, "Millions and millions of Black and Brown trans and LGBTQ+ people have died from complications from HIV, and all we got was this ugly-ass statue.
"It shows you the disconnect between the city and the community. HIV is not gone; it's only now impacting Black and Brown LGBTQ+ youth."
Organizers stressed the importance of continued activism even amidst pride celebrations many of the injustices the LGBTQ+ movement has addressedsuch as the HIV/AIDS crisisare still ongoing.
"Right now, we get a lot of glam, a lot of rainbows, a lot of partiesand that's worth protecting because that's one of my favorite parts of being gay," said Affinity Community Services Interim Executive Director Latonya Maley. "Our magic is worth protecting. While we're out here doing pride, being cute, we have to remember we're protecting something our ancestors created for us that is in us and deserves to be shining out."
Protestors demanded that The Chicago Pride Parade become a nonprofit with a diverse board dedicated to maintaining the "true soul" of pride and that the city defund the police department by 75% to reinvest in social services and community programs. They also called for national gun control measures, abortion rights and justice for victims of police violence.
Amidst an increase in the murders of trans people across the country, organizers called for police to commit to solving these crimes and for the government to federally recognize violence against trans people as a hate crime. They also urged attendees to protect each other.
During the march, Life is Work CEO and co-founder Zahara Bassett led the chant, 'One issue affects all,' and explained during her speech how injustices across the city are deeply interwoven.
"We have to stand with each other," Zahara said. "Whether or not it's affecting us now, it will affect us later."
Other organizations represented at the march include Howard Brown Health, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the Chicago Black Drag Council, Sierra Club, and Lorde, Rustin and Bates.