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Black, gay rights activists unite for Las Vegas march

Red shirts filled the grass behind the Clark County Government Center Saturday evening as a group of more than 100 people came together in solidarity honoring the Stonewall Riots and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Stand In Solidarity Silent march, which organizers said is inspired by the Stonewall Riots, began at 6 p.m. at the Clark County Government Center. The Stonewall Riots, which became a catalyst for the LGBTQ movement, occurred June 28, 1969, when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village.

Johanna Perez, 36, of the Las Vegas Valley’s Paradise area, said the gay community in Las Vegas hasn’t come together with the Black community despite the high population of intersectional residents.

“I’m Black and I’m gay every day,” Perez said. “We’re both fighting for the same thing.”

Perez is the founder of Vegas Urban Pride, which, along with Las Vegas Pride, put together the event Saturday.

The red shirts, she said, were in unity for bloodshed from discrimination that both groups had faced.

Nicole Williams, 37, said with Gay Pride month being limited because of the pandemic she wanted to still honor the “reason Pride exists.”

“Very similarly to the Black community, we’re still facing the same oppression,” she said. “We want to create awareness about Stonewall.”

The Black National Anthem was sung and drag queens spoke about the union of of the LGBTQIA and Black community to make change.

State Sen. Dallas Harris spoke about the success of Nevadans in the fight for equality, including the first majority female Legislature and state Supreme Court. She acknowledged that being a Black and gay woman she has seen the racism and homophobia of both sides.

“We all have to look into ourselves and stand together,” she said. “We’re talking about step one of 100 steps.”

Las Vegan Barbara Strahl, 68, came with her family member, Courtney Randall, 42.

“If you haven’t participated at this point, you’re complicit,” Strahl said.

This was the first protest for the women, who had concerns about catching coronavirus.

“I want to help the momentum of the movement,” Randall said.

It also marked the first rally for Jesus Nanci, 30, who said he came to this one because it seemed like a peaceful protest. “I was looking for a quieter, safer environment,” he said.

His husband, Josue Plascencia, 34, said that as a Latino, he understand the discrimination both groups have faced. “Everyone needs to be treated equal.”

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.