October 21st, 2023. An overcast Saturday morning on the street between Christopher Park and the historic Stonewall Inn. Despite the gloom of the gray clouds and persistent chill, the crowd in the Village burns bright with a collective spirit. At what was once the epicenter of the initial fight for queer liberation in the United States, a coalition forms across races, religions, and ethnicities. A cacophony of trans elders greets one another like old girlfriends who had not seen each other for too long. A small but fierce crowd of trans folks marches through the New York City streets and declares them ours.
This day was the 2023 Trans Visibility March. It was the march’s first year in New York City. Though an annual occurrence, the Trans Visibility March is also a traveling action; it has traversed many cities and states such as Texas, Indianapolis, and Washington D.C. This year, the march was anchored by start and end points that are major landmarks in the history of queer and trans liberation. It began at the Stonewall Inn and finished on Pier 45, where the rally then took place.
Needless to say, the march is hardly a new concept. However, this year also launched the Love Rally. The event featured a collection of speakers who recounted activist efforts within the local community and abroad. Their words stoked revolutionary fervor, and they commemorated the trancestors and those whom we lost far too soon. Organizers intend for the rally to become an annual staple in NYC.
“Love to me is a verb – it’s an action – it’s about showing up.”Ms. June
The rally included a vast array of speakers, including: Sybastian Smith of the National Center for Trans Equality (in his phenomenal DIY jacket), Alex Santiago of the I Am Human Foundation. Kiara St. James of the New York Transgender Advocacy Group, Brittan Hardgers of the New Pride Agenda, the Reclaim Pride Coalition, and Ms. June, among many others.
True to its name, the Love Rally centered love and care. Many of the organizers and speakers already knew each other, and the fondness and intimacy of their interactions were reminiscent of family, like aunties and uncles sharing jokes at a cookout. Founders of a school for trans youth came to share about their burgeoning institution, guided by a commitment to trans children and to nurturing trans futures. The memorialization of trans lives lost throughout the year was shaped by a love for individuals we may not have known but for whom we felt deeply. A queer preacher of multiple religious and spiritual faiths delivered a queer-affirming sermon, offering a reminder that there are many forces beyond us who love us.
Even the choice to rally on Pier 45 was a powerful decision. Pier 45, also known as Christopher Street Pier, has been established as not just a popular space of congregation for NYC’s queer inhabitants, but also a safe space for queer and trans youth. In this way, the gathering connected the efforts and livelihoods of trancestors with the efforts of present-day trans activists and the cumulative trans movement toward a better future for subsequent generations.
Though this was the first instance of the Love Rally, the organizers were adamant to let us know it would not be the last. May the loving momentum of this year’s event carry into future iterations. Every trans person deserves to experience an energy and space like what the Love Rally created– and our collective efforts will make more such spaces possible.
“Every seed that you are growing within yourself – there is someone within this generation and the next that needs it to survive”Brittan Hardgers
Eness Scott (They/She/He) Aspiring writer, with interests in ballroom and cultural archivism. I am a pan-afrikanist Black anarchic radical who is darkskinned, neurodivergent, and genderfluid. Everything I do is for fellow queer and trans Afro-Diasporans.