Pride may be cancelled, but thousands took to the streets in Paris to march for the rights of trans people, LGBT+ migrants and sex workers
Despite the official Pride parade being cancelled, thousands of LGBT+ people marched through Paris at the weekend to protest against racism and demand better treatment for sex workers and migrants.
Activists of colour led grassroots LGBT+ groups through the French capital on Saturday (July 4) to protest police violence.
Those marching demanded political action for sex workers, migrants and other marginalised members of the LGBT+ community.
“I’m here because I saw myself in this call for a more political, more politicised, more radical Pride,” said Douce Dibondo, 26, who hosts a podcast that highlights voices of people of colour and the LGBT+ community.
“Previous Pride events didn’t resonate with me because I had the feeling I was joining the very sequinned, very depoliticised side” of the movement, Dibondo added.
The official Pride parade in Paris has been postponed until November as part of efforts to halt the spread of coronavirus.
Protesters on Saturday wore face masks and carried red umbrellas to represent sex workers, yellow and purple flags to support intersex Pride, as well as the classic rainbow Pride flag.
There were also banners calling attention to the issues faced by LGBT+ migrants in France, as well as other political demands for minority groups.
Victor Galarraga, co-president of AIDS awareness group ACT UP Paris, drew a parallel between the alienation and discrimination gay men experienced in the early years of the HIV epidemic to what marginalised minorities are going through during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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“We are here today for the same things that brought us here for the past 40 years,” he said.
“We are here to demand the most basic rights for the most forgotten people in this pandemic: the trans community, sex workers, HIV-positive, people in precarious situations, migrants.”
Thousands walked from the Pigalle neighbourhood in northern Paris to Republique plaza in the east on what would have been the 50th anniversary of the first-ever Pride march, held in New York in 1970.
That march was also led by LGBT+ people of colour, and was propelled into existence by riots against police brutality at the Stonewall Inn in 1969.
The Stonewall Uprising is commonly credited as the birth of the modern-day movement for gay liberation, although those riots were preceded by others, including an uprising of drag queens, sex workers and trans people at Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco.
As well as protesting police brutality, the Paris marchers were demanding racial-justice reform.
Marchers chanted “It’s my body, it’s my choice!” and “Everyone hates the police!” as they walked, one month after a Black Lives Matter protest was held in the city following the death of George Floyd.
In London, a Black Trans Lives Matter march was also held on the weekend that the traditional Pride in London parade would have taken place.