The reality of Pride is that the prime performance slots rarely go to queer talent. That’s just how things work out. Our favorite cishet queer icons get on stage, do their bops, thank their “gay fans” and cash a check. But this year, with the rash of murders of trans women — particularly of Black trans women — stars on the main stages took time out to say their names.
Ahead of her final song on Saturday night on Pride Island during the World Pride celebration in New York, Teyana Taylor put up the names and photos of Layleen Polanco, Michelle Washington, Dana Martin, Chanel Scurlock, Muhlaysia Booker and more. “I want to dedicate this last song to all the folks who have lost their life for being transgender,” she said. She also flashed up photos and headlines of actress Dominique Jackson being thrown out of a resort in Aruba as well as about the death by suicide of Nigel Shelby.
“No one should be killed for wanting to be who they really are,” she said. “No one should be bullied for being who they really want to be. No one should feel like they can’t come to their loved ones or their parents and express themselves. Pride is so important. Happy Pride everyone, this is so important.” Earlier that night she had Tamiyah Miyake-Mugler of the ballroom scene, who is also a trans woman, perform during “WTP.”
Iggy Azalea took up the mantle in Chicago, also on Saturday. While performing at Pride in the Park, she paused her set and told the story of a trans woman of color who is a fan of hers. “I see the struggle she goes through every day just to be herself, just to walk out the door, and do shit I have the privilege to do every day,” she said.
“All the shit that I go through, is nothing compared to the shit that you all go through,” she said. “So before we get on with the show tonight, while I have the microphone, for Michelle since nobody is listening to her voice because she doesn’t have the platform that I have, I want to read everybody that’s going to watch this online some statistics quickly about trans people that a lot of people need to hear. Fifty percent of trans people have been raped or sexually assaulted. Forty-one percent of trans people have attempted suicide. Eighty percent of trans students feel unsafe at school. And my friend Michelle, has a life expectancy as a Black trans woman of 35 years old.”
The statements from the artists undersccore the fact that for queer and trans people, pride isn’t a one month out of the year thing: it’s an ongoing daily act, many times of resistance.