Queer Weekend of Action for Black Lives
Rally, march celebrates Austin’s Black queer and trans communities
By Beth Sullivan,
12:01AM, Thu. Jun. 25, 2020
As Pride Month comes to a close, local orgs are uniting to host a Queer Weekend of Action for Black Lives this Fri.-Sun., June 26-28, in support of Austin’s Black queer and trans communities.
Organized by Black Queer Lives Matter ATX, Austin Black Pride, and Austin LGBT+ for Black Lives, the three-day series kicks off with Friday night's Peace Rally at City Hall (7pm; 301 W. Second), followed by Austin Black Pride's FB Live intersectionality panel Saturday (2pm) before closing out with Sunday night's Marsha P. Johnson Memorial March and Candlelight Vigil (7pm; 2100 E. Third). Amid ongoing protests against police violence and racism, Black Queer Lives Matter ATX formed earlier this month to amplify the voices and art of Austin’s Black LGBTQIA community.
“We don't have a space for us in this city that's forever changing,” said Ms. Amazing Head, president of Black Queer Lives Matter ATX. “I don't want that to be in front of the Capitol, but until then, that's what we have to do to get what we have to get done.” Natalie Sanders – aka Ms. Girl6, mother of the House of Lepore – is also a board member of BQLM ATX. We spoke with Sanders and Ms. Amazing Head about the org’s mission and the momentum of Austin’s Black Queer and Trans Lives Matter movement.
Natalie Sanders, aka Ms. Girl6
Austin Chronicle: What was the impetus for getting this group started?
Natalie Sanders: The Black Lives Matter movement was not including the LGBTQ people that were being murdered and also being killed by cops. They weren’t mentioning Breonna Taylor, so we wanted to bring on women to that, [too]. … But now I'm hearing less of “Black Lives Matter,” more “All Black Lives Matter,” so us marching and saying things is doing something. People are watching and they're changing their verbiage and it's awesome.
AC: When Pride Month started, there were calls like, “This Pride needs to be in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, Black Trans Lives Matter, and it needs to return to its radical roots.” I think that's a good thing, that people are calling for that, but it’s like, “How did we stray from that?” That was what Pride was always supposed to be about, right? It's disturbing that it takes violence against trans folks being talked about for certain people in the LGBTQIA community to wake up to that. What are your thoughts?
NS: It's just a fight within itself, and then we have the queer communities that are not protecting us at all. … It really hurts me, because we need them to fight with us. We already have the outside world fighting us, people not mentioning us when we're getting murdered, and the newspaper articles misgendering us.
AC: Are you hopeful that this momentum behind the Black Queer and Trans Lives Matter movement will keep going?
NS: This is not going to stop until we get our equal rights as well. Until the people that are killing our girls and our fellas, until there is justice and they get locked up, we are not stopping. Until we can go into a hospital and not have to worry about being misgendered because of the president. We’re continuing to fight.
Ms. Amazing Head
AC: Where have you seen change happening for the better, and where you see change still needing to happen in Austin?
Ms. Amazing Head: In the beginning, the white gays in Austin were very racist toward the Black gays. So, they didn't give us a platform to showcase our art. I grew up in that era and so I got the backlash. I had to create my own way here. ... Now I'm introduced to a different level of gay people, which are very supportive, I guess, because this is the time to speak and right now they heard my voice, or my cry. Things are shifting.
AC: “Now more than ever” implies something didn’t matter up until now, and yet some people are saying, “Now more than ever, we need to stand with Black queer and trans lives.” What do you think when you see that?
MAH: Now than never is better than now more than ever. It’s our time to make some noise and to shift the foundation of this fucked up as is country. … I think that every day, every month, is Pride Month. We don't always have to stand together just for one month: If we all take that same energy and apply it for the next 12 months, we'll be in a much better place.
Queer Weekend of Action for Black Lives Support Austin's Black queer and trans community over three days of IRL and URL events: Friday night's Peace Rally at City Hall (7pm; 301 W. Second); Austin Black Pride's intersectionality panel Saturday (2pm; www.fb.com/austinblackpride); and Sunday night's Marsha P. Johnson Memorial March and Candlelight Vigil (7pm; 2100 E. Third). Fri.-Sun., June 26-28. Multiple locations. www.instagram.com/blackqueerlivesmatteratx.
Editor’s note: These interviews have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the name of Austin LGBT+ for Lives. It has been updated to reflect this change.
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