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Voices4
The advocacy group march at NYC Pride for those who cannotphotography Hunter Abrams

Protesters march at NYC Pride for the queer lives taken by violence

Members of Voices4 carried coffins and signs to demonstrate for those who cannot

We’re well into Pride month now, and demonstrators at New York’s Pride march took the weekend’s parade as a moment to highlight the urgent inequalities at play for LGBTQ people today across the world.

Activist group Voices4 – founded by Dazed 100er Adam Eli – took over Dazed’s Instagram as they marched alongside the Resistance contingent, a collective challenging the corporatization of Pride. As brands latch onto the pink pound, these activists marched for those who cannot, carrying 10 coffins to represent the queer lives taken by violence. 

“To me marching for those who cannot meant thinking about those who are currently alive and can not be open about their identities and those who have perished either due to their identities or dying without ever living comfortably with them,” says Rachel Levit, a 23-year-old Voices4 research team member. Levit added that she was marching with the lesbian and bisexual women in Guatemala who face “corrective” rape, as well as Roxana Hernandez, a transgender woman who feld Honduras and died in ICE custody as she attempted to enter the US. 

Photos, taken by Hunter Abrams for Dazed, highlight the impassioned turnout at New York’s Pride. 

The Voices4 demonstration’s stark visuals – dressed in black, with LGBT and trans pride flags draped across the 10 coffins – paid homage to their LGBTQ predecessors, from ACT UP’s funeral procession to the White House in 1998 and GAG’s Human Beings, which debuted at the New York Pride March in 2016. 

Dominic Finelli, a 28-year-old member of Voices4, added: “Marching for those who cannot is an obligation of the privilege I occupy with my white, cis gay body. This means marching for the entirety of my chosen family – black lives, brown lives, trans lives, gender nonconforming lives, intersex lives, bisexual lives, indigenous lives, disabled lives and lives that are over policed, systemically oppressed and persecuted domestically and internationally. It means showing up for queers everywhere.” 

Finelli mentioned that David Kato, a slain-Ugandan teacher and LGBT activist, was in his thoughts during the demonstration. Kato was beaten to death in a homophobic attack in Kampala in 2011. “I felt the weight of his life as the Pride flag-draped casket rested on my shoulder throughout our march.”

In recent times, Voices 4 held a queer kiss-in to demonstrate in solidarity with LGBTQ communities in ex-Soviet countries. They specifically called out the homophobic policies of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Azerbaijan where LGBTQ people had been detained, assaulted, and physically abused. A year on from the alleged queer purge in Chechnya, the advocacy group also held protests where they wore pink silk hoods and rainbow flag chains. 

Voices4’s Je’Jae Daniels said they were marching, “for those who can’t come out, out of fear of persecution, hatred, and rejection. I march for those who were killed & persecuted and never had the chance to have the moment I am privileged to have at Pride with my peers. 

“I most importantly walk for the survivors of abuse, femmes, disabled, mentally handicapped and other groups that are casted by society as ‘other’ and undeserving of love and support to know we are worthy and resilient, and our experiences makes us valid as humans.”