The marriage of Black Lives Matter and the LGBTQ  rights movement

Civil rights activist and Gayly columnist Mahkesha Hogg shows her support at the peaceful protest in OKC.

by Mahkesha Hogg
Black Issues Columnist

I don’t know how else to describe the day of the protest other than a beautiful marriage. I waited nine years of human rights activism for that day. It was poignant, touching and filled with equality.

On Sunday, July 10, thousands gathered at Harkins Theater in Oklahoma City, Okla. to peacefully protest the recent shootings of black men and other people of color by Police Officers.  The Oklahoma City chapter of Black Lives Matter (BLM) organized, via Facebook, a peaceful protest and vigil to bring awareness of the alarmingly high rates of black people being killed unnecessarily.

The reason I call it a marriage is because for the first time at a black protest I saw several rainbow items that were worn or brought by people. As an activist, I have been encouraging black and brown people in Oklahoma City to get involved in the fight for LGBTQ rights. To me, you can’t see one without the other, and together we are stronger.  Organizations such as Freedom Oklahoma have fought for the rights of racial minorities in this state on many occasions. They have encouraged people of color to share their discrimination stories with them throughout the years. 

Maybe the marriage happened because the Orlando nightclub shooting occurred less than four weeks from the recent loss of these African-American individuals. The universe has a weird way of connecting people, but I am certain that everything happens for a reason. Those rainbow lives lost are fresh. Many black Oklahomans showed up to the OKC Orlando vigil and a black minister even prayed.

Hundreds of supporters gathered in dowtown OKC last month for a peaceful protest.
Hundreds of supporters gathered in dowtown OKC last month for a peaceful protest.

The Oklahoma City LGBTQ community showed up so strongly. The merging of our communities, on a larger level, was bound to happen. One of the ogranizers of the event, Sheri Amore, who is African American, is on the board of OKC Pride. She is also one of the ogranizers for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade. The Executive Director of Freedom Oklahoma, Troy Stevenson, spoke about how your [Black Lives] struggles are our [LGBTQ] struggles, and that all of us are one.  The crowd cheered. I was in awe of everything. I was thinking to myself, “I hope there are young black LGBTQ people here who may be in the closet. I want them to see the support.”

On that day, my big hippie dream happened in my state – in my city! I feel so hopeful. I know that anything is possible and I have been a witness. Just a few weeks ago, the city of Oklahoma City sent out a message that they were going to light up the Skydance Bridge over I-40 in rainbow colors to honor the Orlando victims. They followed through.

If you stay in Oklahoma long enough, good things can and will happen. 

Copyright 2016 The Gayly - 8/14/2016 @ 8:50 a.m. CDT