Prizm News / June 10, 2019 / By Staley Jophiel Munroe

50 years of measuring progress with so much more work left to do

Forward by Charles Abernathy

Empathy is best described as showing up for someone when they are in pain and imagining yourself in their situation. The 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots marks a meaningful celebration of our progress as an LGBTQI+ community. However, progress should not simply be measured by the accumulation of rights, but should also reflect how we have shown up for those who have not experienced progress in our community. 

We can find the silver-linings in achieving marriage equality, banning conversion therapy on minors, and discovering medical advancements like PrEP that prevent HIV infections. However, as a person of color it is hard to find comfort when black and brown bodies are brutalized by law enforcement without consequence. It’s hard when the public school systems have created school-to-prison pipeline, and racism in healthcare has cost the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars. Some of you who read this don’t have to worry about that.

Queer People of Color celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots because our existence is a rebellion to a system founded on white supremacy, human trafficking, and sexism. I hope the on the 100th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riot we measure ourselves more on how we used our privileges to lift up those experiencing pain because of oppression and bigotry in our community.

In the words of James Baldwin, “We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.” For true community to happen, we must be empathic, not look away, and work together to end the behaviors that continue pain.

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Sirr Hamby – Identifies as Gender non-conforming, he him his

The act of bravery that helped me find my genuine self was pushing myself to live outside of my box of “masculine comfort” and being honest with myself. After I came out and accepted myself, I found my true happiness and started making decisions based on what would continue making ME happy, without worrying about others expectations or opinions! Now I have evolved into someone who I could have never imagined I’d be brave enough to be and feel this confident and genuinely happy!

Curtis Brock – Identifies as Gay, he him his

Regardless of how successful I am, some people in our community will not think of me as an equal because of the color of my skin. This is also an issue for our transgender brothers and sisters. We will never move forward as a community until we come together as one. We can’t expect the straight community to respect or support us when we’re not respecting or supporting each other.

Anthony Brown aka Boyoncé – Identifies as gay, he him his

“What does it mean personally to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots?” –

Personally, as a gay POC who also happens to be a drag performer , it is quite an honor and privilege to even be able to celebrate the 50 years since the riots. Thanks to Gay Liberation Activists like Martha P. Johnson, who was one of the prominent figures in the Stonewall uprising, I feel as if I can wholeheartedly relate to what she stood and fought for. Although I have not had the same journey, it feels so close to my heart. We are incredibly lucky to be as far long as we are with marriage equality but the fight is far from being over.

Zhané Wiley – Identifies as Transgender, She her hers

What advice, wisdom, or love would you give to the LGBTQIA POC youth?

I want the youth in our community to know you can obtain greatness, in any facet of life. Rising above conflict and oppression will prepare you for opportunities that are to come. Be the best YOU; always and forever because time stops for no one, and know that a positive passion shall be your success.

-Nishyah Wray/ Hunny Tits – Identifies as Bisexual, she her hers.

The biggest issue I have within my own LGBT community would probably be that even some people in the community do not believe in bisexuality. More so the older people in the community. It’s hard enough to come out, but even harder when the people who are Practice what you preach. If equality is what you preach then show that. 

Lisa McLymont – Identifies as Lesbian, she her hers

The best I believe we can each do is love beyond our immediate circles. What does that mean? To me, it means staying open to new perspectives, and understanding that these new perspectives will either change or support your core self. What you choose to do with all those gained nuances is up to you, so please chose to use your powers for good!

Bianca Debonair – Identifies as Transgender, she her hers.

I believe we’re heading in the right direction. Think outside of your normal. Make friends with those who look different, or those who you see often but maybe have never spoken with. This builds amazing connections. Learn about their culture and explore you may discover something amazing. We’re all fighting for the same thing so spread love and positivity in our colorful beautiful community.

Mariah Ward – Identifies as Queer, GNC, All pronouns

We need to support one another by getting to KNOW one another. SHOW UP for one another. We need to remember how to compliment each other instead of consistently critiquing. If you simply show up and show love, that can speak volumes and all of that will come back to you in the same way, if not, more powerful. 

Kentwaun Turner – Identifies as Gay, he him his

I remember being in my early teen when I had enough with being misunderstood. I remember writing a suicide note then heading for my father’s shotgun when the family was asleep. After a long struggle debating whether or not to put down the weapon, eventually it went back into its niche against the wall with myself slowly walking back to my room. I wept for what must have been the next three hours and within those moments is when I had to be brave enough to “Come clean with myself!” Even though I would still not act upon or explore what being gay was until I left my parent’s home behind, I accepted the fact that I indeed carried a same sex attraction. It was that act of acknowledgement that channeled a new mindset and my greatest surge of bravery.

Fashion Credits:

Creative Director: Staley Jophiel Munroe

Photographer: Jacob Alexander Cartagena (Saint Allexander) 

Lighting Producer: Kenneth Falk

Host: CCAD

Staley Jophiel Munroe
Staley Munroe is the creative director of Prizm. A Columbus native, Staley's career spans from NY to LA, working as a photographer, art director, and coordinator within the creative/fashion industries. Limited Brands, Hollywood film sets, New York Fashion Week, and several magazines have trusted her instincts for impactful visualization. As a proud, resilient transgender woman, Staley vigorously fights for equality and is a frequent speaker with the intent to increase awareness and understanding of transgender life.