Trans Women of Color Turn Out WeHo Pride
Hey SoCal! June is Pride month, and part of celebrating Pride is celebrating our queer foremothers of color, such as Stormé Delarverie, Sylvia Rivera, and of course Marsha P Johnson. This reverence for fierce females was on display at WeHo Pride’s OUTLoud music festival, which Mike Ciriaco hit up for this month’s Hey SoQueer.
Spanning the first weekend of June, WeHo Pride kicked off SoCal’s month of queer revelry, in the homocentric haven of West Hollywood. (Other local Pride events included LA Pride, Off Sunset Festival, and QCon, to name a few). Returning after a two-year Covid hiatus, this year’s WeHo Pride showcased queer women of color, such as grand marshall Janelle Monae, and performers like rapper Cupcakke and RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Kornbread Jete, both of whom turned it out on the opening night of the OUTLoud Music Festival in West Hollywood Park. For Kornbread, LBGTQ Pride traces back to queer women of color, specifically those within the trans community.
“Everything started with trans women of color,” Kornbread explained to Mike on the OUTLoud Fest pink carpet. “All of this started with trans women of color. We learned a lot from trans women. This is important to show them the roots.”
Trans and genderqueer minorities played a significant role in the Stonewall Riots.
Picture this: Greenwich Village New York, June 28th, 1969. A police raid on the queer dive bar the Stonewall Inn ignited a weekend-long street battle between the NYPD, and members of the Village’s LGBTQ community, most prominently drag queens, hustlers, and queer women of color, like Storme Delarverie.
A biracial lesbian, Storme is often credited as the first to physically confront the police, and inspired others to fight as well, sparking the riots. Later that evening, Marsha P Johnson, a trans rights activist, and self-identified drag queen, joined the fray, most notably, climbing a light post, and dropping a brick onto the windshield of a cop car.
For Arisce Wanzer, a trans comedian, and one of the hosts of the OUTLoud Festival, the battle ignited by our queer ancestors, and transcestors, is just as important as ever.
“We’re the most marginalized especially trans women of color,” said Arisce in front of the OUTLoud Fest step and repeat. “We’ve got 36 anti-trans bills put into the stream. Honey, its not good. We have to be out more than ever and louder than ever and now we’re out loud raising voices.”
Straight allies are crucial for amplifying these voices, like headliner Lil Kim. For many in the queer community, including Arisce, this rap icon serves as Kimspiration.
“It’s THE Lil Kim,” gushed Arisce. “That’s a huge deal for a Millenial. We love little Kim!”
For Arisce, the best way for those in Southern California to support members of the trans community is to step aside and let them speak.
“Make trans friends,” preached Arisce. “Follow trans accounts. Listen to Trans people. Stop giving the words “Giving a voice to the voiceless. Because we do have voices. You’re just not listening to them. That pisses me off so much because we have voices. Listen to us when we are talking.”
Kornbread shared a similar sentiment, delivered in her trademark delicious style.
“Speak up, hold yourselves accountable,” said Kornbread. “We don’t get a lot of respect. Especially in the queer community. It’s always based around cisgender males. Cisgender white males. If you give attention to not just trans women, but POC women, hold yourself accountable for that and show us the same respect you would show the person you would fuck on the street.”
Performance photography courtesy of Jason Kentaro.
And for more SoCal Pride, hit up our Hey SoQueer content compilation.
Stay Proud, SoCal!