Pride season is upon us, and before the floats line up and the DJs plug in, there’s a chance to reflect on where we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going.
It’s a chance to look back at how far we’ve come, when only four years ago, same-sex marriage became the law of the land in America. Or nineteen years ago, when Vermont became the first state to legalize civil unions between same-sex couples, charting the then-uncertain course for marriage equality. Thirty-seven years ago — Wisconsin was the first state in the US to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. Forty-one years ago Harvey Milk became the first openly gay man to be elected into political office in California. Forty-six years ago the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
Go back fifty years, when police carried out a bigoted and all-too-common raid in the wee hours of a hot summer night at a bar in New York City’s West Village frequented by queers–many of whom were transfolk and POC–the Stonewall Inn. A riot broke out, and while it was by no means the first act of queer resistance to direct oppression, the momentum of that conflict vibrates through every step forward the LGBTQ community has taken. It vibrates through us still today.
When the parades do kick off, music blaring, Pride becomes a chance to feel the current of the past and embrace the present moment with joy, choosing not to be robbed of life’s pleasures by having touched adversity. To taste the sweetest fruits this earthly existence bears without shame. To show the world that we will not return to the darkness.
And it’s a chance to hold that joy while still staring down the barrel of fights yet to be won, knowing the road is never easy but always navigable together. Because the fight is never over. We must protect our trans brother and sisters, who are demeaned, harassed and murdered at unconscionable rates; we must protect our queer youth and ensure no child is subjected to harmful conversion therapy; we must challenge human rights abuses against LGBTQ people around this ever-shrinking world; and we must practice love and acceptance in our own ranks even when conflict arises.
With that spirit in mind and to mark 50 years of remarkable advancements since Stonewall, Queerty will honor 50 trailblazing individuals who actively ensure society remains moving towards equality, acceptance, and dignity for all queer people.
From politicians to artists, activists to authors, Pride50 is composed of people who not only affect real change outside of our community but also challenge it from within to inspire growth and evolution from all angles.
And that is truly something to be proud of.
Beginning now through the end of June, Queerty will release 50 profiles celebrating these remarkable individuals.
Photo: Marsha P. Thompson and Sylvia Rivera, who were present at the Stonewall uprising who also started an organization called STAR, which stood for Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, and founded the STAR House for young drag queens and transwomen, hustling in the streets so their “children” would not have to.
So cool remembering our history and the great strides we have made in the U.S. and around the world. Sadly, the Pride parade in Phoenix, AZ this year was void of anything about Stonewall, dykes on wheels, and much of what I have come to expect is about being gay. If it weren’t for the rainbows it could easily have been a July 4th hetero parade. There is an element that seems to be wanting to rewrite our history, to whitewash it so it is more homogenized and acceptable for people. Sad.
I wish Queery were a little less glib and little smarter. Having Marsha Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, whom I both knew very well, there as symbols of the movement is at best misleading. STAR, the group that Sylvia supposedly started during the Weinstein Hall sit-in at NYU in October of 1970, came out of the Gay Liberation Front, the first radical group to be formed immediately after the Stonewall Uprising. GLF gave birth to the modern LGBT movement—every major organization following came from it. GLF said that gays and lesbians were not only not sick, but important to the survival of the world; we said that tolerance was not something we were after, nor even acceptance—in other words, lgbt people would finally describe and decide things for ourselves, and demand genuine equality. Everything else—changes in the attitudes of the law, society, psychiatry, social work, and academics followed this. The Gay Liberation Front and its spin-off organization, the Gay Activists Alliance, basically produced the lgbt movement we will be celebrating this June in the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall. In 1980, when the US made its 180 degree swing to the right first with the election of Ronald Reagan, then the Bushes, and later Donald Trump, there was a big surge to forget the radical roots of the movement, especially to forget the Gay Liberation Front and the acivists who had given so much of their lives to produce gay liberation. Instead, we are now stuck with media vultures who mistake stardom for activism and publicity for change. It’s disappointing but understandable that Queerty is a part of that. Perry Brass, member of the Gay LIberation Front.
I was the youngest member of GAA in Philly at 16 (1973). I have to agree with you. Well said.
Bravo Perry. As a member of the GLF and a lesbian who risked her life to MARCH in the Christopher Street Liberation Day March in June of 1970 I can only weep at what is being written about OUR history today and to see the various homages which have completely re-written that history with no regard for the group that started the revolution …the group that included a cell called S.T.A.R. which grew out of one of our actions TOGETHER. If you look at pictures of the GLF actions you will see Sylvia and Marsha surrounded by various gays and lesbians from the GLF. There is no mention of the brave lesbians who leafleted, picketed and eventually closed the mafia run lesbian bars. There is no award for the lesbians who stood up to the Mafia when they came to our dance at Alternate U, with guns trying to scare us from emptying their bars. In that first MARCH, the Mafia put the word out that they wanted us DEAD and the police, who were owned by the Mafia, were not going to protect us. Who among your CELEBRITY Queerty AWARD WINNERS would have been willing to walk with us on that day in June. Just the fact that a STRAIGHT POLITICIAN could your Rebel With A Cause award tells me all I need to know regarding your politics and your contributions to LGBTQ+ history.
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