Last Friday gay Democratic hopeful Pete Buttigieg went to New York City’s LGBT Community Center on Friday to discuss HIV/AIDS policy,. Mayor Pete left the Center to walk to the NYC AIDS Memorial a few blocks south to pay his respects to the hundreds of thousands of victims.
After arriving at the memorial a small group of activists arrived carrying signs that read “BLACK TRANS LIVES MATTER” and “STONEWALL IS NOW”
“The purpose of this protest is to highlight that there are distinct issues that divide the [LGBTQ+] community, namely along color lines,” Kiara St. James, the co-founder and executive director of the New York Transgender Advocacy Group, tells Out. “He can’t use trans folks as talking points and not show up at the [Trans Day of Action] march.
Also involved in the ambush was American Civil Liberties Union trans justice campaign manager LaLa Holston-Zannell who said:
“It is your responsibility to let [queer and trans people of color] know that you will have their back and that you understand police brutality,” she said. “Stonewall 50 — that’s what we fought for, six days [really four] against the police, and today we’re still doing it. Fifty years ago, it was a girl like me that fought for six days. Black trans women are the most targeted—”
It was then some push-back against Holston-Zannell’s behavior began from the crowd.
A gay man in the crowd told Holston-Zannell:
“With all due respect, it wasn’t just you there,” he said, confronting her about erasing white gay people from the Stonewall narrative.
And he wasn’t the only one. After one of the other activists said that “Black trans lives matter,” a white woman in the crowd countered that “all lives matter.” Later, another white woman, who thought she’d never see “a married gay man running for president,” thanked the mayor for “working for all of us, for trans, for LGBT—”
“You can’t say that,” said Holston-Zannell. “If you’re not Black and trans you can’t say that.”
“You know what?” the woman responded, frustrated. “My wife worked for marriage equality.”
“Which means nothing for Black and brown trans people,” Holston-Zannell replied. “We care about living. We care about not being killed.”
Said Buttigieg later after the confrontation:
“One thing I’m very mindful of is that I couldn’t be doing this if people hadn’t fought for me before I was born, Some of them Black, some of them trans, people whose lived experiences were totally different than mine. But we’ve got to be lifting each other up. If you’re going to press me on doing a better job of lifting people up, I welcome that challenge.”
There has been no response.