In a pre-COVID-19 world, Milwaukee would have been celebrating LGBTQ Pride this weekend. But we are in strange times, and adding the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis to that has transformed the nation just over the past week again. We’ve seen solidarity emerging from queer communities around the country, deciding that their canceled Pride events should be revived as Black Lives Matter (BLM) solidarity protests. Los Angeles Pride announced that their Pride would become a BLM protest march, and now Milwaukee is attempting to join those ranks.
With a facebook event created June 4, Broderick Pearson, known to many in queer nightlife as Montell Infiniti Ross, hopes to host a solidarity march this Sunday, June 7, leading off from the main PrideFest entrance gate at the Henry W. Maier Festival Park at 1:00.
“It really came from the frustration I was having about not seeing much from our Milwaukee Pridefest or Pride Parade committees putting anything together, or even taking the opportunity of using what would have been our Pridefest weekend to make a statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement,” Pearson said. “Yesterday I reached a point where I was like, if it’s not going to happen, then why don’t I just use what I know and put it together on my own?” This caused Pearson to make a Facebook Live post, in it saying that he planned to create a Pride protest march.
The facebook event within hours already amassed a couple hundred people who’ve indicated attending, and over 1,000 expressing interest. Those numbers are rapidly increasing as word of the event continues to go viral.
Although the organization of the Pride protest march in support of BLM is organic, Pearson envisions the route beginning at the E. Chicago St. entrance of the Henry W. Maier Festival Park, and continuing down E. Chicago Street. From there it will take at left onto Water Street and continue onto South 1st Street, turning onto West Burnham Street, and again when they reach South 2nd Street. The goal is to end up on Milwaukee’s traditional South 2nd Street Pride Parade route.
This is meant to be a solidarity protest. Pearson has been reaching out to other protest organizers to pull together some best practices for this march. Previously he organized a standing protest outside LaCage nightclub last summer after reports started surfacing of racist comments the owner had made about some of the entertainers and the clientele those entertainers brought in. He encourages protesters to come dressed in rainbow apparel or something “fabulous,” and with signs of hope, love and support. This is meant to be a peaceful protest demonstration.