For the protestors, Thursdays are Church
Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Stonewall Inn on the evening of Nov. 12, as they have every Thursday since the beginning of June. Wearing face masks and carrying umbrellas to protect against the cold autumn rain, they posed for photos and danced in the street to music blasting from portable speakers. Drivers frequently honked their horns — some to encourage the jubilant crowd, others just trying to get through.
This crowd of people had come to the West Village to take part in the Stonewall Protests, weekly events organized by Qween Andy Jean and Joel Rivera 51 years after the original Stonewall Riots to promote a clear message: Black Trans Lives Matter.
Like the original movement, which erupted in response to police targeting LGBT+ spaces, this year’s Stonewall Protests were sparked by police violence: the killing of George Floyd on May 25. Since they began this summer, the demonstrations have focused on violence against trans people, including the 37 mostly Black and Brown trans women who have been murdered in the US so far this year.
The week before, hundreds of NYPD officers responded to the Nov. 5 demonstration, kettling protesters and arresting 19, including Rivera. All 19 were released the same night.
This week, fewer NYPD officers were in attendance, although many of the protesters were still upset by last week’s show of force. Several raised their middle fingers towards the groups of officers who followed the demonstration.
This event is the first time protesters have gathered since the election was called for former Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden is the first elected president in history to mention transgender people in his victory speech. He has also decried crimes and discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming people throughout his campaign, most recently describing the murder of trans people as an “epidemic” via Twitter on Nov. 20, and vowing to reverse anti-trans legislation introduced by the Trump administration.
In her Nov. 12 speech, Jean celebrated both Trump’s defeat and Biden’s mention of trans people in his campaign policy. She maintained, however, that until concrete protections for her community are legislated and enforced, she and the Stonewall Protests are here to stay.
Two protesters wait outside The Stonewall Inn as others slowly trickle onto Christopher Street.
The organizers arrive with several LGBT+ flags that protesters will carry when the crowd moves.
Protesters, wielding different LGBT+ flags and national flags march towards Washington Square Park.
A protester raises their middle finger to the police, following violence on Nov. 5.
Diners at Anfora on 8th Ave watch the procession from their tables. Some record the march on their phones.
Residents of this New York University dormitory look out onto 5th Ave. Protesters call on them to join the march, “This is your fight too!”
A protester looks on as Jean gives a second speech outside the New York University dormitory on 5th Ave.
Protester Thesan Pollyanna poses for a photo while demonstrators around them chant.
When describing the Stonewall Protests, co-organizer Joel Rivera is known to say, “Thursdays are Family. Thursdays are Healing. Thursdays are Church.” (Photo/Rose Gilbert)