by Noah Grigni
The cover of the 2020 virtual Pride Guide is a tribute to Black Lives Matter protesters here in Boston, centering queer and trans Black youth on the front lines. My goal with this illustration is to show Boston Pride’s solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and use the platform of the Pride Guide to honor our current moment in history. This is especially important in the context of pride month, considering that the queer liberation movement in the US was catalyzed by a riot against police brutality led by trans people of color.
This cover art went through many iterations! When I started conceptualizing this illustration in May, I wanted to convey queer pride and activism in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. For this concept, I sketched queer artists and activists in Zoom-style boxes, to communicate that we are celebrating and organizing together as a community during quarantine. I planned to draw portraits of local activists, and reached out to four of the grassroots organizations that received Boston Pride Community Fund grants this year: Transgender Emergency Fund, Boston Dyke March, LGBT Elders of Color, and The Theater Offensive. I wanted to celebrate local community figures, who are doing the ongoing work of building and sustaining spaces for queer empowerment. Although I did not finalize my first concept, I would still like to acknowledge these four amazing groups, and encourage readers to donate to them.
The world is moving fast. I decided to change the direction of the cover art after joining Black Lives Matter protests on Friday 5/29, Sunday 5/31, and Tuesday 6/2. On Friday, Boston police sped through a crowd of peaceful protesters, almost hitting several of my friends; on Sunday, they escalated with tear gas and rubber bullets; on Tuesday, they appeared in riot gear with shotguns, and called in the National Guard for backup to suppress another protest that was entirely peaceful. After witnessing this level of violence and watching officers terrorize my friends, I could not focus on anything except anger towards the police and the criminal justice system. With the support of Boston Pride, I quickly redesigned the cover to support the protests and the Black Lives Matter movement.