As Trans Queer Pueblo explained to New Times on Friday, their message was a simple one: They want Pride to be inclusive and stand up for the rights of LGBT undocumented immigrants.
That means getting rid of the police float, refusing corporate sponsorships from banks that have funded immigration detention centers, and using the group's political influence to lobby against laws that predominantly affect LGBT people of color.
The response was ugly. Parade attendees shouted racial slurs, pushed and shoved protesters, and attempted to start physical fights. Others chanted "Get out of our Pride" and "Go home." Groups of bystanders booed as the protesters began marching down the parade route.
You can watch a livestream and see for yourself here.
It looked like something from a Trump rally — except that this time, the angry white men were wearing rainbow beads, and were at an event that's supposedly about tolerance and equality.
Many of them seemed annoyed that the parade had been briefly interrupted, which is ironic. A Pride parade is different from, say, a St. Patrick's Day parade, in that it honors a movement which was built around demonstrations and protests. Acts of resistance intended to call attention to issues that affect a minority group — you know, like what Trans Queer Pueblo did on Sunday — are exactly what Pride is supposed to be celebrating.
But in recent years, Pride has become more of a big (and admittedly very fun) party. There are major corporate sponsors, lots of straight people, and not a lot of talk about movement-building.
There's no doubt that the LGBT community has made major strides towards equality, and that's certainly worth celebrating. But within that community, there are plenty of people of color and undocumented immigrants who are still fighting for basic rights of their own. Which is what Trans Queer Pueblo was trying to point out on Sunday.
Unfortunately, not a whole lot of people wanted to listen.
"We went in with an understanding what we were in a safe place where our concerns were going to be taken seriously,” Dagoberto Bailon, Trans Queer Pueblo’s general assistant, says. “But we were greeted by Pride immediately calling the police, which caused a lot of fear since many of us are undocumented.”
None of the activists who protested at the parade were arrested, Bailon says. Still, “it was clear where Pride stands, and that they’re not on the side of communities of color.”
Phoenix Pride has indicated that they’re willing to meet with Trans Queer Pueblo, and Bailon says that he’d welcome that. “The reality is that all we want is to sit down and have a conversation about how we can make Pride safe and inclusive for everyone.”
But, as Sunday’s events demonstrated, there’s still plenty of latent racism within the gay community which won't go away anytime soon.
"We didn't think we were going to get a lot of pushback from the community," Bailon says. “It was a true testament to our current climate.”