Brooklyn Pride Week didn’t make a stop in North Brooklyn this year, but an LGBTQ tradition in Bushwick continued unabated this past weekend.
Hundreds of people turned out to support, march and participate in the festivities at the 9th Annual Bushwick Pride last Saturday, organized by GLOBE, the LGBTQ project of the civil rights group, Make The Road New York.
The festivities kicked off with a March from Make The Road New York’s Bushwick Office on Grove Street to Maria Hernandez Park, and was entirely devoid of the corporate overtones that have now become only too common with the larger celebration in Manhattan.
Instead the March was populated by dozens of long-term residents and members of activist groups like the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the Audre Lorde Project, Trans Women of Color Collective of Greater New York, Lesbian Herstory Archives, and Immigration Equality.
And this year’s Bushwick Pride was focused on raising awareness about healthcare for the transgender community.
“Trans Healthcare Now,” a campaign launched by the SRLP and ALP was the focal point of the event, and was elected by members of GLOBE as the theme for Saturday’s march.
Beginning in 1998 Medicaid coverage began excluding the needs of trans and gender non-conforming people, and the exclusion denied them access to gender affirming surgery, hormone therapy, and routine preventative check-ups, according to GLOBE.
“Healthcare is something everybody should be able to access regardless of their class, gender, or sexuality,” said Julián Padilla, an organizer at GLOBE, who helped put together Bushwick Pride this year. “When healthcare becomes unaffordable, people are forced to seek alternatives and do survival work, like trading sex and selling substances to pay for it.”
At present, the SRLP, the Legal Aid Society, and Willkie, Farr & Gallagher LLP have filed a federal class action lawsuit against the New York State Department of Health, challenging the discriminatory Medicaid regulations.
Saturday’s March in Bushwick was followed by an afternoon of song and dance, poetry, burlesque, and a drag performance by GLOBE’s very own Jerome Jones.
The Grand Marshals for the March were two people who have been involved with Bushwick Pride right from the start – Reina Gossett, who works as a membership director at SRLP, and Lourdes Ashley Hunter, co-founder of ALP’s TransJustice Project and TWOCC.
For Padilla, and organizers at GLOBE, the festivities also serve to raise awareness of the rich queer history of Bushwick, and the long-term presence of working class and immigrant LGBTQ in the neighborhoods, whose concerns, some feel, have been overshadowed by Bushwick’s new trendy, gay-friendly image.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly referenced GLOBE’s use of gender affirming surgery as sex reassignment surgery.