Who We Are and What We Love
QueerBomb rally cry: Friday, June 4, 2010
This is the full text of Silky Shoemaker's QueerBomb speech, given before the march and after Council Member Randi Shade's address to the crowd, in which Shade delivered the mayor's official proclamation of Friday, June 4, 2010, as QueerBomb Day.
This night has been a long time coming. I'm so glad we're all here to celebrate our wild and beautiful queer identities. Tonight we proclaim who we are and what we love, without shame or apology, or beer commercials.
Pride is strength in what we love and it is what we make it, together. And now we show Austin that we can make it without money or corporate sponsors or exclusionary tactics or billboards. Without fear of sex or bodies, of filth or poor people, without fear of speaking the truth.
As "the Gays," we have an incredible lineage of radical, courageous ancestors who literally put their lives on the line to exist in this world. To exist in flaming, exuberant queerness. Their struggles have paved the road we walk tonight. And when we take to the streets for Pride, we carry their torches in honor of the work they have done, the lives we have lost, and the work we still have left to do!
Forty-one years ago, when the Stonewall Riots lit up the Lower East Side of Manhattan, no one apologized to their board of trustees afterwards.
They did not consider themselves "too freaky" or "too vulgar" or "unsuitable for families." Even though that is exactly what the world wanted them to think. They were queers of color, they were trannies, they were activists and organizers. They were sex workers and drag queens and passing butches. They were backroom cocksuckers and bitter old queens and underage twinks. They were drunks, loudmouths, and perverts – tired, disappointed, and angry. And they fought for their right to exist in just these ways, and more! (So every time you see a bitter old queen at Charlie's, you can thank Sylvia Rivera.) They fought to be unapologetically extravagant in their queerness and irrepressible in their demands!
We will be told again and again to make ourselves presentable, to hide behind closed doors, to button up, butch up, hush up, pay up – to sell out our values for mainstream acceptance. BUT this is wrong! And it's also BORING!
They will say we should do it in the name of normalcy or decency or that it's the only way to get it done. And especially they will say, "Do it in the name of families."
But my family is right here. I'm reclaiming that word. (Again!) Because my family is built around respecting and honoring each other in our many facets, in the beauty and dignity of our varied experiences. And in this shared family we inherit a responsibility from the faggots and bulldaggers of yore, our flaming foremothers and forefathers:
To remember that the freedoms we have were built on the radical activism of others. When they took to the streets with broken bottles and high heels in hand they made room for pissed-off transsexuals in bad wigs (and more!).
When ACT UP members chained themselves to the walls of the New York Stock Exchange, they demanded the world see us: as living, breathing, fucking, dying human beings in need of affordable medicine and basic compassion.
When we pass out free condoms, it's not just to say, "Be safe," it's also saying, "We're not ashamed; we will still find power in how we make love."
When I think of QueerBomb, I think of us all making love: BIG GAY LOVE out on the streets! And I think it's heroic. I'm so proud to march with you all tonight. To honor our history and build a future. To bridge and overlap movements for freedom and justice and good looks.
In the words of Sylvester, "You make me feel mighty real!"