Philly LGBTQ community must come out in support of MLK D.A.R.E. March

Since becoming a part of Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community, I have heard several LGBTQ community leaders describe Philly as the best city to be gay in America; the Human Rights Campaign gave the city a top score in its 2014 Municipal Equality Index. But there is still work to be done so long as LGBTQ Philadelphians are

still subject to racist police practices, economic injustice and unfairly funded schools.

On Jan. 19, more than 10,000 people are expected to turn out for the Martin Luther King Day of Action, Resistance and Empowerment (MLK D.A.R.E.) March through Center City. This march comes out of the movement to say black lives matter and that police and civilian murders of black people — including Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Renisha McBride, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Islan Nettles, Philadelphians Brandon Tate-Brown and Diamond Williams, and many others — must stop. These issues are LGBTQ issues. The LGBTQ community should be at this march.

The MLK D.A.R.E. March has three demands: First, an end to the use of “stop and frisk” and the creation of an Independent Police Review Board that is fully empowered and funded. Second, raising the minimum wage and the right to form unions. And third, fair funding for Pennsylvania public schools. Each of these demands is shaped with an eye toward dismantling systemic racism that continues to oppress and marginalize people of color across the city and the United States. LGBTQ Philadelphians need to come out in support of these demands, because they affect every member of our community. Marching on Martin Luther King Day is a time for us to speak out while centering the disproportionate impact of these issues on the black LGBTQ community.

When LGBTQ Philadelphians demand an end to “stop and frisk” and call for an Independent Police Review Board that is fully empowered and funded, we are speaking out against racist police practices in our community and nationwide. We are standing with 48 percent of LGBT respondents to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs survey who reported experiencing police misconduct. We are demanding justice for the members of our community who experience homophobic, transphobic and racist violence at the hands of police.

When LGBTQ Philadelphians demand a $15-per-hour minimum wage and the right to form unions, we are standing with the 22 percent of our community living in poverty and the 15 percent of black LGB people and 28 percent of black transgender people who are unemployed.

When LGBTQ Philadelphians demand a fully funded, democratically controlled local school system, we are standing up for our youth who deserve a quality education in a safe environment. We are demanding better resources for our LGBTQ youth who currently make up 15 percent of the population in the juvenile-justice system, despite only making up 5-7 percent of the general population.

When LGBTQ Philadelphians turn out for the MLK D.A.R.E. March, we are showing that we understand that justice for LGBTQ people cannot come without racial or economic justice.

The MLK D.A.R.E. March begins with a rally at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 19 at 440 N. Broad St. The march will kick off at 2 p.m. and head south to City Hall before turning down Market Street to Independence Mall, where it will end with a second rally. Those who cannot march can meet up with the rally on Independence Mall at 3:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/ReclaimMLKPHL.

If you are looking for other ways to support this work, consider donating to MLK D.A.R.E.’s Go Fund Me (www.gofundme.com/ReclaimMLKPHL), or encourage your organization to endorse the march by emailing [email protected]

Maddie Taterka lives and writes in South Philadelphia. She is a contributing editor to Autostraddle.com.