49 CROWNS

A PRIDE MEDITATION

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49 Crowns

A Pride Meditation

Los Angeles, CA 

We started this project as a way to connect and celebrate queer artists of color. Building Our Crowns is an artistic meditation on personal and communal pride. Classroom of Compassion, as creative community caregivers, wanted to construct a socially distant practice that could be performed alone and experienced together in this time of isolation. Connecting artists from across Los Angeles, 49 Crowns is a check in with ourselves and our community--an act of empowerment and liberation, for spirits, our histories, and our futures. 

For Pride 2020, we collaborated with 49 Queer artists throughout Los Angeles to perform a virtual act of pride: floral crown-making. It began as a way to celebrate and honor the 4 year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub, but has grown to include hundreds of artists from across California, building over 300 floral crowns. Inspired by lessons from essential Queer icons, Marsha P Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Stormé DeLarverie, and James Baldwin, these floral crowns are an artistic meditation on resilience and pride.

 

With social distance guidelines in place, we've been conducting this collaborative community project by dropping off at-home experiential learning kits. Each beautifully crafted kit includes all the supplies necessary to make these floral crowns as well as a lesson plan, historical photos, and pride uniform.

As James Baldwin famously said, “Our crown has already been bought and paid for. All we have to do is wear it.”

These are the stories we told. This is our community crown, woven together with our dreams, and our history, and our power.  

By wearing our crowns, we stand in solidarity with ourselves and with our community. With our ancestors and our loved ones. Wearing the crown is being the change. Taking responsibility for the past, and supporting everyone’s future. Suffering is intersectional: Repair is intersectional. We pledge to use our crowns to empower others, to be the authenticity we need in this world, and to wear our power with pride. 

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MADIN LOPEZ

@madinraylopez

"Pride is a Practice: a daily act of self-love and remembrance.

Building Our Crowns is an exercise in pride.

The crown symbolizes power and its connection with the sacred: Divine power. "your crown is already bought and paid for. All you have to do is put it on." Inspired by lessons from three essencial queer icons, Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and James Baldwin"

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DAVID LA JOVEL

@davidmlajovel

Got this box & flowers full of beautiful things. Made a big mess. Great-Grandma & Grandma came to mind, they wore braids like crowns. They are the Queens & Leaders of our families. “49 Crowns” reminds me of the 49 lives cut short, “Pride” reminds me that it wasn’t always about the parade. But after every storm, there is a rainbow.

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J CAGE

@j.cagz

To my Trans and Gender Non-Conforming siblings, I hope you know how loved you are. I’m sorry that during these hard times we have a lot going against us and people continue to harm us. I’m so sorry. I know it hurts, it hurts me too. But please hang in there. Please. Keep. Going. You are beautiful and you are worthy. You are Trans enough. You are Queer enough. And no one can take that from you. Look to your chosen families. Hold them close and remember you are not alone. They love you and I love you. ⁣

To my Cis allies and accomplices, now is the time to show up. We really need you. Please speak up and show up with us. Listen to us when we are speaking. Correct people when they misgender us. Let us know that you see us and respect us. ⁣

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Jay 

@jayguild.__

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ANGEL LOPEZ

@ariessoul329

Pride is more than a month. It’s more than a rainbow on a shoe or a shampoo bottle, claiming alliance. It’s more than a playlist or a discount code.

Pride is a way of living.

Pride is a birthright.

And though the current U.S. government has practically done everything they can to erase our existence, like today when they rolled back more rights for Trans people, they can’t shut us down. Honey, the LGBTQ+ fam is here. We are strong. We are loud. We are not going quiet into this goodnight.

💐💐💐

Pride is “the consciousness of one’s own dignity.” So for my LGBTQIA fam, we don’t need the world to tell us we deserve pride. And we don’t need a month to mark it. We must just do our best to walk through this world, conscious of our dignity. Especially for my BIPOC fam, because the cis white men have been walking in it for years.

And when the world is being a complete asshole to us, trying to tell us what they think we deserve, we have to know that their beliefs don’t define our truth. We define our truth. And we MUST stand together, all the letters, to hold each other’s truths up high, for all the world to see. That’s how we show our pride!

I, for one, am proud as hell to be queer. No questions. All love.

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Jessica-Jean

@mxjessicajean

This project has made me feel a lot of joy in such a chaotic time. I felt so connected with my community as I wrapped each flower round and round. Pride has always been like one big family reunion, mainly because I don’t get out much. I’m like the aloof queer aunt that shows up unannounced. Being able to participate in this project allowed me a way to show up and celebrate our loved ones.

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Jazzmun

@jazzmunnichcala

“I find anything that is of greater value than you”

Abe Torrico

This flower crown is dedicated to #MarshaPJohnson, a black trans woman and outspoken activist of LGBTQ+ rights in the 60s. She was also a key figure in the Stonewall riots of 1969. Those events would eventually lead to the start the gay rights movement.

This crown is also dedicated to the 49 lives that were lost 4 years ago at a gay night club in Orlando. The massacre would go on to become one of the worst mass shootings in modern U.S. history. #SayTheirNames

This year, as we celebrate Pride, remember that it all started because of a black voice.

#BlackLivesMatter

#BlackTransLivesMatter

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Natalie Nielsen

@

Mae and I built our flower crowns today. Thank you @classroomofcompassion for your incredibly thoughtful and powerful mediation and the pieces to manifest the power that we and all queer people have within us.

Maecatt

The @classroomofcompassion has invited us to make crowns in celebration and remembrance for the LQBTQA community. I am humbled and honored. Today of all days, I hope you know how loved you are. Just as you are. Now and always.

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Victoria Rose

@084Rose

The @classroomofcompassion has invited us to make crowns in celebration and remembrance for the LQBTQA community. I am humbled and honored. Today of all days, I hope you know how loved you are. Just as you are. Now and always.

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In remembrance of the 49 lives lost

at the Pulse Nightclub Shooting

MARSHA P. JOHNSON

Marsha P “Pay It No Mind” Johnson, known for her outspoken personality, generosity, and unwavering advocacy for LGBTQI+ rights, was, of course, part of the struggle during the Stonewall Riots. With her best friend Sylvia Rivera , Marsha helped to found Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR)—the first organization to give housing and help to gay, trans, gender nonconforming people and sex workers. Marsha was “a bodhisattva, a holy person, a saint on street corners,” and Sylvia was a nurturing role model and crusader, “[using] her outsider status to help make change.”

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Additional Resources

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SYLVIA RIVERA

Sylvia Rivera was a civil rights pioneer—a tireless advocate for gay liberation, people of color, homeless youth, sex workers, and any marginalized community. 

 

Today we think of Sylvia Rivera among the icons of the LGBTQ movement, but in the 1970s her radical ideals of inclusivity and systemic poverty/racism were too much for the majority.

 

   Sylvia worked endlessly for her queer family using her spirit and voice to continue transforming her community and the world to be more inclusive. Her legacy lives on through the work of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.

STORME DELARVERIE

Stormé DeLarverie (pronounced Stormy De-LAR-ver-ee), was a performer, bouncer, and volunteer patrol known as the “guardian of lesbians. Few people know the extraordinary history of this queer leader and the vital role she played in the Gay Rights Movement.

In the early hours of June 28th, 1969 the Stonewall Inn was raided, and Stormé was assaulted by police. “Nobody knows who threw the first punch, but it’s rumored that she did, and she said she did.”

Hundreds of queer folk resisted beside her, protected her, and began what would go down in history as a riot. For Stormé and the queer comminuty, “It was a rebellion, it was an uprising, it was a civil rights disobedience – it wasn't no damn riot.”

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JAMES BALDWIN

James Baldwin was one of the most brilliant and insightful authors, essayists, poets, and playwrights in American History. 

His work not only gave a transcendent voice to the black and queer communities, it “explored the psychological implications of racism for both the oppressed and the oppressor.”

Baldwin became the best selling black author in the WORLD. 

His work was best-selling not only because he spoke to so many black and queer people, but because he spoke to everyone. His work and words were intersectional.

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.”

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AT HOME LESSON PLAN

We invite you to take part in 49 Crowns by using the lesson plan below