Love and rage: Reflections on Pride Month and the fight for equity in NYC

Lorenzo Van Ness
Lorenzo Van Ness

This Pride month I reflect on Love and Rage because Stonewall was a riot, started by people who were full of rage at the ways that the world continuously tried to crush their love each day. Our queer and trans ancestors were not able to unabashedly show love for each other or for themselves. Today, each of us strives to find their place in this world, in the movement for justice, peace, and equity, but we cannot forget to ask ourselves why we want a better world and a better New York City. My role as director of community organizing and engagement with the NYC Commission on Racial Equity (CORE) allows me the unique opportunity to speak with New Yorkers across the city about what they want from their government in order to make this city more equitable. I value the chance to advance racial equity in government operations and increase community voice in government decision making.

As I expand my work towards justice and equity, I ask myself each day what drives me. Most days, it’s love for my communities that runs so deep in my veins, that I know I would not be here without so many who have impacted me in tiny and giant ways. I know that the effect I’ve had on my hometown, New York City, has been important and I want to continue to seek out opportunities to build across differences. While I pride myself on living through a politic of love, I also find myself struggling to balance the love for others and the love for myself, as well as the desire to offer support when I’m running low.  

I think often of my mother, who passed away a bit over a month ago, and how she pushed herself each day through hard labor cleaning a hospital to give me and my siblings opportunities that life never afforded her. I stand on the shoulders of a woman who loved the Queer Trans weirdo that I am, even when she could not understand me. I am proud of who I am, despite the world, and despite the messages we internalize about what we should prioritize each day and whose life matters. 

We cannot undo the past harms of racism, sexism, and all of the oppressions that work together to make it so that some have more barriers to overcome than others, but we can look ahead towards a New York City where every New Yorker is valued, thriving, and embraced. And so, I call on all New Yorkers to challenge themselves to envision this world, and help CORE uplift these struggles by being loud and proud about what you think will make this city more equitable. Take a look at the Community Equity Priorities that we have drafted and give us your feedback via our Response Form so that together we can make a better tomorrow for New York City.

Lorenzo Van Ness is the director of community organizing and engagement at the NYC Commission on Racial Equity