These are my own thoughts, I cannot speak for Joy and Michael.
In 2015, they stepped up to lead a resistance against corporatized, corrupt Pride defined by Iggy Azalea but grounded in much deeper problems in the regional LGBTQ community. Beyond resisting, they created a three year project, Roots Pride, celebrating and centering those typically marginalized by corporate Prides.
They laid a foundation for Peoples Pride. They struck a metaphorical blow to the foundation of our pridefest foundation – four years later, we see hard evidence of that blow richocheting through plans for Pgh Prides 2019 and beyond.
They were warriors when we needed them. And they’ve paid a great price. Investing in their family’s peace of mind, safety and security is a reasonable way to honor the legacy of Stonewall, the legacy of queer resistance in Pittsburgh, and to honor our neighbors.
Click to read more about some of their harrowing experiences since 2015. Pieces of their stories will resonate with many of us – raising children, custody battles, family rejection, family acceptance, perseverance, giving back, harassment, abuse, housing insecurity, defiance, and love.
Our stories are intertwined with these experiences – I know this from the nearly 300 regional stories I’ve read through AMPLIFY. It is our responsibility to support our warriors when they move out of the public eye and into a different community building roles.
In 2014, Joy spoke to the Dyke and Trans March. This quote stays with me …
We must become deliberate in our understanding of solidarity and resistance. We must learn the histories of each other, tell the stories of each other, resist the normalization of violence, of human rights violations wherever they exist.
I don’t profess to have some great friendship with Joy or Michael. I have respect for their work, of course, and appreciation for their sacrifices. But I also have grown as a person, as queer activist, as a neighbor because they have shared pieces of their lives with me. Their transparency around vulnerability and marginalization has inspired me to tell my own stories more authentically and to examine how I resist. Acts of solidarity and resistance aren’t Hallmark movie moments. Sometimes they look like $5 donations to support neighbors experiencing particularly difficult times.