The 50th anniversary of the first pride looks a whole lot different than anyone could have predicted. First when the COVID-19 pandemic led to a domino effect of cancelations as the need for public health measures became a necessary tool in combatting the virus, then when the LGBTQ community stood in solidarity in protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.
The Black Lives Matter movement has not and will not lose steam until real action is taken to address America's continued history of racism and violence against African Americans, and now pride organizations are organizing peaceful, safety-focused marches in place of parades and parties.
As a new generation of young, queer people become engaged in anti-racist activism, there's never been a better time to spotlight these six Black, queer trailblazers who are committed to reshaping the world for the better.
5. Mark Bradford
Mark Bradford knows the power of art and imagery. The acclaimed abstract artist’s work at first glance may seem purely interested in aesthetics, but just like the varied materials and textures he uses, there are emotional and visceral layers to his art. Much of his work focuses on aerial-type assemblages, often depicting his hometown of Los Angeles, taking a bird’s eye view of the suffering felt by the African American communities on the streets below. And right now, in Los Angeles and in cities across the country, those struggles are getting more of the attention they deserve.
With the media so often missing the forest for the trees, Bradford’s massive pieces give the viewer a chance to absorb the vastness of racial inequality. The pain is painted into the places he depicts, inseparable from the land beneath the city streets. It’s a vitally important lesson for those still struggling to grasp the context of racism in America.
Take, for instance, his 2006 piece, Scorched Earth, which represents Tulsa, Oklahoma as a place that can never get out from underneath the racist massacre carried out in 1921 by white residents against the city’s thriving Black community:
While everyone must keep their eyes open to the daily events of protest and stay vigilant in demanding change, we’re lucky there are artists like Bradford weaving the past and present together, reminding us why the stakes are so high.