LGBTQ community marches for black lives, recognition

Hundreds, if not thousands, took part in the “Philly Queer March for Black Lives" on Sunday afternoon.
PHOTO: Jack Tomczuk

“I’m tired.”

That was the overarching message of those who gathered on a sunny and warm Sunday afternoon in Love Park.

LGBTQ activists said they were tired of being ignored, used as tokens, left out of the Black Lives Matter movement and mistreated by the African American community.

“We are tired of being nice, tired of asking for the bare minimum,” Tyunique Nelson, an LGBTQ advocate, told a large crowd near the Love statue. “These systems are no longer serving us.”

PHOTO: Jack Tomczuk

Hundreds, if not thousands, took part in the “Philly Queer March for Black Lives.” Demonstrators walked to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, taking breaks to dance and sing “get up off of our necks” to the tune of James Brown’s “Get Up Offa That Thing.”

There was also anger.

Madelyn Morrison, director of the Bryson Institute at the Attic Youth Center, which serves the LGBTQ community, said she has moved past pushing for legislation and voting.

Madelyn Morrison, director of the Bryson Institute at the Attic Youth Center, which serves the LGBTQ community, speaks to protesters at Love Park on Sunday. PHOTO: Jack Tomczuk

“When revolution finally comes, this world will be on fire,” said Morrison, who is a transgender woman. “The revolution will be sanctified in blood, the blood of our oppressors.”

Some speakers at the rally accused organizations and businesses of using LGBTQ people of color to acquire grant money or produce a veneer of diversity.

“I’m tired of getting looked at as a token,” said VinChelle, a performer in the local drag queen scene. “I’m tired of looking at my fellow lovely black entertainers, seeing them get shut down for no reason, not getting booked, not getting exposed.”

Activists stressed throughout the afternoon that “all black lives matter.”

PHOTO: Jack Tomczuk

The protest came after the death of Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, a 27-year-old black transgender woman whose dismembered body was found June 8 in the Schuylkill River near Bartram’s Garden.

Last week, police said they were actively searching for Akhenaton “Akh” Jones in connection with Fells’ killing, and authorities plan to charge him with murder.

Demonstrators at the protest carried signs honoring Fells and pointed to increased rates of violence against transgender women of color.

At least 15 transgender or gender nonconforming people have been violently killed this year, according to the Human Rights Coalition.

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