Racism and exclusion is always and everywhere
Thought-provoking impulses by Eva-Maria Popp
June 2020 is a month that will have a similar significance in history as the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King. This special month will be forever linked to the horrific crime of George Floyd and the demonstrations against racism around the world.
Floyd’s death definitely marks a turning point in the latent or overt racist treatment of people of colour in America and around the globe.
Society experienced a similar turning point in June 1969 with the riots and protests around Stonewall.
Both times it is about exclusion, about humiliation, about hatred, about power and about violence against “others” and “the other”.
The cult figure “Sylvia Rivera”, the brave drag queen and transwoman with Puerto Rican-Venezuelan roots, who broke the camel’s back with her courageous action in the Stonewall Bar, unites all facets of racism. As a CoP and trans woman, she has experienced double exclusion and human disappointment throughout her life.
I cannot imagine a braver woman than Sylvia Rivera.
She was one of the first activists to fight for gay and trans rights on all fronts. She earned her living through prostitution, as there was hardly any other option for transwomen at that time. With the money she earned, she supported transsexual teenage homeless people.
In 1970, she founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) to support homeless Draq Queens and trans people.
It is particularly tragic that she has repeatedly come into conflict with the mainstream of the LGBT movement. Rivera was very involved in the Gay Activist Alliance. However, the members of this movement distanced themselves from the transgender movement. They refused to support when it came to enforcing rights for trans people. A personal, bitter slap in the face of Sylvia Rivera, who lived as a drag queen for a long time and was herself a transwoman.
She had to experience that white homosexual men suddenly acted as if they were worth more than trans people and CoP.
There it was again – “the other”!
You are different! You are not one of us! We are the better ones!
These incidents took place in the 70s and 80s of the last century. One would hope that this exclusionary and demeaning thinking and behaviour would thus be a thing of the past for a long time. But far from it:
We still experience it today in the LGBTI community. There are trans people who stand up and get upset about drag queens:
“We are the good ones, the right ones! You are different!”
“The Other” is a soul monster and must be conquered.
Only when we realise that we all have something in common that unites us!
WE ARE ALL HUMAN.
What colour our skin is, what nationality we belong to, whether we are man or woman, intersexual, asexual, transsexual, short or tall, fat or skinny……..Who cares?
Let us take a leaf out of the book of a great woman who deserves our respect:
She is a great role model for me.
She was brave, she was human, she helped, she fought, she had no prejudices.
“It’s the person that counts,” says our Foundation President Sabina Kocherhans.
Sylvia Rivera has lived and acted according to this motto.
It is good to see that the memory of the great campaigner Sylvia Rivera is upheld by naming a street in New York.
Sylvia Rivera Street is a late honour for a woman to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude. She showed us all how it’s done.
Her remarkable journey through life and her fight for drag queens AND trans people must be our role model. It is our obligation to follow it and finally defeat “the OTHER” in our own thinking and actions.
You are responsible for transforming “YOUR OTHERS” into “OUR TOGETHER”.
This post is also available in: German