• Hayden Ventrella

Shea Diamond and LGBTQ+ Protest Music

In honor of October being LGBTQ+ history month, let's talk about LGBTQ+ protest history in the United States. Many early Queer activists found their roots in Henry Gerber's Society for Human Rights, founded in 1924. However, the Stonewall Riots are often recognized as the beginning of the modern LGBTQ+ protest movement, so we will start there. The Stonewall Inn, a bar in Greenwich Village, was known for its regular crowd of LGBTQ+ folks—bars like the Stonewall Inn were victims of constant police harassment throughout the era. On June 28, 1969, several police officers entered the Inn, arresting the bar’s employees for, allegedly, operating without a liquor license. Several patrons of the Inn were arrested as well for violating a city ordinance requiring residents to wear at least “three articles of gender-appropriate clothing.” As the arrestees were crowded into a police van, people outside noticed what was happening. Soon, nearly 400 people were rioting in the streets of New York City, protesting these arrests as well as the countless anti-LGBTQ+ acts that had come before.

Today, as we continue to fight for the advancement of LGBTQ+ rights, music serves a

prominent role in empowering the voices of LGBTQ+ folks. Shea Diamond, a Black

Transgender womxn, is an influential musical voice for the LGBTQ+ community. While

incarcerated for 10 years, Shea began writing songs about her experience as a Black Transgender womxn within the racist and transphobic context of American society. After performing at a Trans Lives Matter rally, Shea was discovered by a fellow musician and released her first EP soon after.



The song of Shea’s that we will focus on is Don’t Shoot, which she dedicated to Black and Brown Transgender folks victimized by gun violence. In acknowledging the intersectionality of the LGBTQ+ community, the title of the song refers to a protest chant more commonly recognized as related to the Black Lives Matter movement. Shea

focuses on the unique marginalization of BIPOC Queer folks, specifically their higher vulnerability to gun violence. As Shea calls attention to this violence through her music, her words act as a form of protest against the injustices committed against Transgender people of color. For Shea, even existing in the music industry as a Transgender womxn of color is a form of protest alone as she is breaking down the barriers of a straight, white, cisgender, male-dominated industry.


As the youth of America, you will inherit these movements for LGBTQ+ and racial

justice, just as Shea Diamond did. Music is an empowering way to express yourself and raise the issues you care about, and you may choose to conquer these issues the same way Shea chose to. So, take it from Shea herself, “Be yourself, find your unique sound, perfect and create your own lane, and ride it like a Tesla.”


Sources:

Hueston, Kinsale. “Shea Diamond, Singer-Songwriter and Trans Rights Activist.”

Changing Wxman Collective, Changing Wxman Collective, 1 May 2020,

changingwomxncollective.org/the-glow-1/shea-diamond-singer-songwriter-and-tran

s-rights-activist.

“Impact of Gun Violence on Black Americans.” Everytown Research & Policy, 27

May 2021, everytownresearch.org/issue/gun-violence-black-americans/.

“Shea Diamond – Don't Shoot.” Genius, genius.com/Shea-diamond-dont-shoot-lyrics.

“Stonewall Riots.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 21 June

2021, www.britannica.com/event/Stonewall-riots.