DROP THE CHARGES!
REMOVE ALL MONUMENTS TO WHITE SUPREMACY!
On October 11th, activists will return to the Durham County Courthouse to respond to charges relating to the toppling of the monument to the Confederacy and to armed self-defense in the face of the KKK showing up on the streets of Durham. Those of us facing charges are united with the brave Black and Brown, young and old, LGBTQ and disabled people of Durham, who flooded the streets downtown to defend our city from racist monuments and from violent white supremacists on August 14 and August 18.
On this October 11th, National Coming Out Day, the queer arrestees are calling on LGBTQ people to come out of the closets and into the streets; and for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, to take leadership from LGBTQ people of color and come out into the streets to defend your communities. We honor our LGBTQ ancestors of color, for whom being “out” has always meant defending themselves and their queer communities from police and racist vigilantes. As we prepare to face charges on National Coming Out Day, we are coming out in the spirit of Lavender Menace: we’re here, we’re queer, and we will defend our communities by any means necessary.
We reject “good protestor, bad protestor” and “criminals of conscience” messaging. The “crimes” of tearing down racist monuments and armed community self-defense are no more moral than the “crime” of stealing baby formula, selling drugs to feed your family, or turning to sex work to survive. We come out in celebration of the LGBTQ community’s sometimes “criminal” commitment to self defense- it took angry trans women, drag queens and kings, butch lesbians and femme gay men, taking the streets armed with bricks and broken beer bottles to fight for their lives against the police to pave the way for our survival and resistance today. We are coming out as the angry children of those pissed off queers, and we call on Sheriff Andrews to come out as well, as an enabler of white supremacy, a cruel jailer, a protector of property over people, and an advocate for murderous policing.
The threat of death and incarceration for LGBTQ people and people of color is not a thing of the past. We grieve for Scout Shultz, executed by transphobic police in Georgia. We grieve for Ally Steinfield, murdered brutally in Missouri and the 21st victim of anti-trans violence this year alone. We grieve for Anthony Lamar Smith, shot to death by a white police officer who then attempted to frame Anthony with false evidence and after this series of crimes was acquitted by a judge in St. Louis.
These deaths are not exceptions to the rule. These people—queer, female, trans, Black, Brown, working class—are just a few of the many targets of casual violence. This daily violence upholds a system of white supremacy, police brutality, patriarchy, and capitalism. We are committed to fighting this system.
On this National Coming Out Day, join queers in bashing back against the genocide of the Puerto Rican people, left for dead by the federal government in the wake of two devastating hurricanes, against violent ICE raids on migrant communities, against jails, prisons, and detention facilities that kill poor people and people of color. We need you, your solidarity and your courage. We need you to commit to leaving no one behind.