W elcome to this month’s Music that Matters. This month we focus on social justice movements surrounding gender identity and sexual orientation. June is a special time to celebrate Pride, and it is Pride Month for many reasons. The Stonewall riots that catalyzed the Gay Rights Movement erupted on June 28, 1969. The following year, a peaceful mass protest in New York City commemorated Stonewall—the first Gay Pride parade in American history. It took too long, but on June 26, 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that Texas’ anti-sodomy laws were unconstitutional. Exactly 12 years later, on June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court finally enshrined equal marriage rights for all, in Obergefell v. Hodges. And just this week, on June 15, 2020, a majority of the Supreme Court agreed with equality advocates that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects Americans from workplace discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Across the nation, we’re also witnessing history in the making of a similar and not unrelated sort. Black lives do indeed matter, for many reasons. Amongst them, and long before Obergefell, brave Black trans and queer people stood up to adversity with pride, courage, defiance, and perseverance. They risked and gave their lives for all LGBTQ people—past, present, and future. JusticeAid supports a future in which all Black lives, including LGBTQ lives, are safe and protected.
Sexual orientation and gender identity subsume an enormous swath of issues, perspectives, and individual movements, each of which deserve their own attention. JusticeAid recognizes that the very nature of discrimination often involves oversimplified accounts of human experiences, and so we’ve tried to deliver a diverse representation of music reflecting queer perspectives on issues regarding queer liberation. Still, we can’t meaningfully touch on every theme or issue with a single blog post, especially because, as always, we give “protest songs” a broad meaning.
We need to hear songs that gave solace to those who had to hide. We need to hear artists who risked their careers for their beliefs and their love. We need to hear songs that shouted identity and orientation out loud, no matter the dangers involved. And we need to hear the music that continues to comfort and empower our LGBTQ neighbors while their basic safety remains a daily unknown. These are songs that focus on intensely personal issues that many millions of people have had to hide for too long.
This isn’t just about who we get to love and how we ought to feel about it. This is about visibility, affirmation, equality, and revolution. We all have a role to play, and you can get started by opening your eyes and ears to the artists we’ve featured in this month’s Music that Matters, knowing that JusticeAid sings alongside you.