On Friday (June 26), Stonewall Day celebrated the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall riots – digitally, of course, given that the coronavirus pandemic is preventing the usual flood of Pride marches and celebrations this Pride Month.
While Pride celebrations are usually joyous affairs, this livestream took on a positive but serious tone given the fact that America is grappling not only with a pandemic but a reckoning over police brutality that inordinately effects Black citizens. To that end, everyone from Demi Lovato to Katy Perry spoke not only in support of LGBTQ rights, but for the need for true equality in the United States.
Here are nine standout moments.
Vice President and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden appeared early in the broadcast to support the community. Pointing out that “Pride is particularly poignant this year,” Biden saluted “the lives of trans individuals, especially Black trans women” who “helped bring life to the movement,” calling them “courageous individuals.”
“It is our job for our generation to continue the fight and get lasting equality for the movement,” said Hayley Kiyoko before launching into a gentle, irresistible cover of the Killers’ “Mr. Brightside.” After that, Kiyoko treated fans to her breakout “Girls Like Girls,” bopping around in her home, proving you don’t need an audience to get down.
President Obama, whose administration saw the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the establishment of marriage equality, appeared during the livestream, calling Stonewall “one of America’s defining victories for civil rights” and saluted the continuing fight for the movement: “Just this month, the Supreme Court ruled that employers can no longer discriminate against LGBTQ employees.”
“Usually on Pride, I’m thinking, ‘what banger can I listen to that will fill my heart with joy?’” said Katy Perry during her appearance, which found a rainbow light shining on her face. This year, however, Perry said she’s focused this year on using her “privilege and platform” to uplift the LGBTQ community and speak out against police brutality. “As I get ready to bring a new life into the world, the wish I have for my child is that she’ll be happy, and healthy and safe. It’s the same wish every mother has for their kid. It’s the wish that Trayvon (Martin)’s mom had, and Breonna (Taylor)’s and George (Floyd)’s and Tony (McDade)’s and the list is too damn long.”
As a member of the queer community, I feel so much pride joining Stonewall Day,” Demi Lovato said during her appearance. The pop star called for “the equal rights of Black Americans” and pointed out “the last few months have left our [LGBTQ] community in need of life saving services,” urging people to support those in need during the benefit livestream.
Taylor Swift, who popped up at Stonewall Inn on the 50th anniversary last year to sing “Shake It Off” next to pal Jesse Tyler Ferguson, called out the U.S. census for trans/nonbinary erasure: “I got my census the other day and there were two choices: male and female. And that erasure was so upsetting to me.” Swift said the absence of census options for trans and nonbinary citizens is “a really brutal way of dismissing them.”
While there have been a number of tone-deaf covers of John Lennon’s “Imagine” over the years, Cynthia Erivo brought a powerful resilience to her version of it during the broadcast.
“I really do believe that you are the future,” Kesha said prior to a heartfelt performance of her affecting, inspiring “Rainbow.” “You inspire me with your energy, your heart, your voices and the way you take action.”
Shea Diamond brought her “I Am America” music video – featuring everyone from Shangela to Bob the Drag Queen to Justin Tranter – to the livestream, reminding viewers that the country is at its best when it celebrates diversity instead of fearing it.