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Defiant ‘drag march for change’ demands better for queer Black and trans lives

Vic Parsons June 18, 2021
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Chicago: ‘Drag march for change’ demands better for Black and trans lives

Protestors are calling for the Chicago police department to be defunded and for more support for trans rights and Black Lives Matter. (Twitter/@NoWarNoRacism)

The second-ever Drag March for Change, in Chicago, saw hundreds take to the streets to demand support for Black Lives Matter and trans rights.

Protestors met at Belmont Avenue and Halsted Street and marched on the city’s North Side.

Organisers said the key point of the march was “an expanded message of equality for people of all races”.

“We really need seats at the table for Black and brown faces and bodies and experiences, because through diversity we can accomplish so much more,” march organiser Jo MaMa told NBC News.

Organisers and protestors alike said they want to empower communities in Chicago to include trans rights and Black Lives Matter.

“We see a lot of white men be supported in this community,” Joey Reza said. “We want to showcase more than that with Black lives, trans lives and every gender in between, female and male.”

Drag March for Change organisers believe more change is needed and are also calling for the Chicago police department to be defunded by 75 per cent, with the money redirected towards organisations that benefit the community.

“They could have gone to so many other social services that actually provide help for the community rather than threaten us and make us scared to walk on the street,” Jo MaMa said.

The overall message of the march was clear.

“They’re gay or lesbian or whatever, love them,” said Alberto Williams. “They’re just as important. Their lives matter. Fight for them. Fight for people of colour and just be there for one another.”

Last summer, campaigners said that Chicago’s North Halsted area was plagued by racism and transphobia, and launched a petition for Boystown to be renamed.

Non-binary petitioner Devly Camp called on the Northalsted Business Alliance to rebrand to better reflect the city’s diverse LGBT+ community, long dogged, activists say, by sexism, racism and transphobia.

Camp claimed in the petition that “systemic transphobia, racism, and sexism have plagued our neighbourhood for decades, and it begins at the top, with the all-male board of the Northalsted Business Alliance”.

Marketing campaigns spearheaded by the alliance – such as a sign saying the area is “for the boys”, Camp said, promote a culture where queer, white, cis men are prioritised.

Now, business leaders are beginning the process of considering the name change. The Northalsted Business Alliance said in a statement its committee will begin outreach with the goal of gaining “important perspective” on how to handle the name change, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Related topics: black lives matter, Chicago

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