by Mia McKenzie
I’ve said it before: it’s hard being a black woman in the world. It’s hard being any kind of black person. Any kind of brown person. Any kind of woman. Add queerness to the mix, and life becomes an amazing kind of struggle, one filled with enormous losses and small triumphs.
The triumphs, however small, are always significant. I’m not talking about huge social justice movements, but rather the smaller things that always spark those movements, the smaller things that keep those movements going. I’m talking about black women, domestic workers, refusing to give up their seats on buses in Montgomery, Alabama. Not just Rosa Parks, but all the women who refused to get up before her. Each of their actions was a small triumph. Even when they got arrested, which they did. Because the small triumph wasn’t in the outcome, but in the act of resistance itself.
During the Stonewall Riots of 1969, when some of Greenwich Village’s most marginalized queers—homeless youth, drag queens—fought back against police brutality, every brick thrown, every foot of ground held, was a small triumph. When the police grabbed folk singer Dave Van Ronk—who had heard the commotion from a bar two doors away from the Stonewall and come to help—he didn’t run. He wasn’t gay, but he had experienced police violence during antiwar demonstrations. He said: “As far as I was concerned, anybody who’d stand against the cops was all right with me, and that’s why I stayed in.”…