MIAMI’S LGBTQ COMMUNITY CENTER CALLS FOR ACTION:
THE VIOLENCE MUST STOP NOW!
South Florida’s oldest LGBTQ service agency stands in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter.
Pridelines stands firmly for freedom, justice, equality, and equity, including the freedom to enact one’s civil rights. The recent murders and violence perpetrated against people protesting anti-Black racism and anti-Black violence by those who have sworn an oath to protect and serve highlight a long-standing issue in our society. Systems of oppression designed to uphold white supremacy culture fueling the racism that plagues our nation must be dismantled. The violence must stop now!
As we enter Pride month, it is important to remember that this period commemorates the Stonewall Riots, led by Black and Brown community members, that launched our LGBTQ Movement at a point when our community could no longer stand to be shamed and humiliated. And as American political activist Angela Davis rightfully noted, “Certainly the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender movement would not have been conceptualized in the same way had it not happened against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement...” Now fifty-one years later, we must refuel the flames of protest that launched our movement and stand proudly in solidarity with our Black communities across the country, especially those whose Black identities intersect with their queer identities, and are disproportionately affected by hate and violence.
Since its founding in the wake of Anita Bryant’s Save Our Children campaign, Pridelines’ mission has always been rooted in activism focused on creating space and advocating for disenfranchised communities, developing programs and services to foster social change, and empowering LGBTQ people to become leaders within their communities. As Miami’s LGBTQ Community Center, we continue to serve our most vulnerable members living on the margins, including LGBTQ youth seeking support, LGBTQ young adults experiencing or at-risk of homelessness, people of transgender experience, people engaging in survival sex work, and people living with HIV who are all predominantly Black and Brown. Pridelines staff is also representative of the people we serve, consisting of 92% people of color and 61% people who identify as Black, all who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and/or of transgender experience, including team members living with HIV, making our commitment to the advancement of racial and social justice both professional and personal.
Therefore it is Pridelines responsibility to speak out now and reaffirm our commitment against injustice until our staff members and Black and Brown people across the nation are free to live and exist without fear of violence as a result of systemic racism. For these reasons, our leadership team, with the support of our board, and despite the funding challenges imposed by COVID-19, has reallocated staff development funds to provide support should any of our staff be arrested or assaulted driving to and from work, going about their daily lives, or advocating for civil rights by exercising their First Amendment rights.
“The lives of Black people are not anyone’s to take or harm, no lives should ever be. And yet, with the ongoing murders and daily violence against Black communities, we condemn as unacceptable that justice is rarely if ever served. No person should ever fear living, especially not based on the color of their skin.” says Pridelines C.E.O., Victor Diaz-Herman, “Which is why until Black lives are treated with the respect that all lives should be treated with, we must all protest against the systems that obstruct the ability to do so. In a world where we are minding social distance, I can’t think of a time when social connection and community has ever been more important.”
Pridelines stands by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” For this reason, it is the intent of Pridelines’ board of directors and staff to loudly proclaim our alignment with the #BlackLivesMatter movement by invoking the names of those whose lives were most recently taken without justice over the last year, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and twelve members of our transgender community: Dustin Parker, Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, Yampi Méndez Arocho, Monika Diamond, Lexi, Johanna Metzger, Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, Layla Pelaez Sánchez, Penélope Díaz Ramírez, Nina Pop, Helle Jae O’Regan, and Tony McDade.
Pridelines remains a safe and affirming space for all members the LGBTQ community and our allies, and now as always, our doors are open to anyone or any group seeking to advance civil rights and social justice in a peaceful and powerful way. Meanwhile, we call on our non-Black LGBTQ community members and allies to join us in supporting our Black communities by seeking racial justice and anti-race workshops near you, lending your platforms and voices to our Black community members, and leveraging funds to support those doing this work. For more information contact us today at (305) 571-9601 or Pridelines.org.
A nation that traditionally upholds White Supremacy Culture will never have the freedom to fully enact its civil rights and experience true freedom and justice for all until #BlackLivesMatter.
(Issued on June 3rd, 2020)