From its birth in 1969 to today, the LGBT+ movement for equality continues.
Throughout the years, Pride has brought the Queer community and Allies together in celebration of the legislative wins for equal rights, all while understanding the challenges still present today. Summer is the perfect time to reflect on the advancements made by the Queer community while looking forward to how much more there is to accomplish. Writer and journalist Matthew Todd shares the evolution of this momentous time by commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first Pride Parade in his book, “The Story of the LGBTQ Equality Movement.” His book shares rare images and highlights moving anecdotes from key players and witnesses that pushed the movement forward.
With a historical moment, led by Marsha P. Johnson in the Stonewall Riots that changed Queer culture forever in 1969, Todd knew his book had more relevancy now than it ever did before.
“We are in a very similar period now—fighting against racism, for LGBTQ rights, to stop the destruction of the environment, and more. This is a time of consequences for all of us,” he shares. It’s a battle from a time in which people couldn’t authentically be themselves. From denying their sexuality, to homophobic doctors giving false HIV-positive results to gay men, or couples killing themselves because there was no way to live openly as a queer couple, this is how people were living in the mid- to late-20th century, as recounted in Todd’s book from a memoir by filmmaker by Derek Jarman.
While this same type of systemic oppression may not be so blatant today, the Queer community still feels restriction through legislation, such as excluding transgender youth from athletics and discrimination in public accommodations, healthcare, and more.
In his book, Todd connects with different voices to amplify the Queer perspective. Pushing the evolution forward are the supportive voices creating awareness, as Todd recounts in the story of the Manford family. Morty Manford was a student who was at the Stonewall Inn when it was raided. He became an activist, and in 1972, his mother Jeanne attended Pride with him holding a sign that read “Parents of Gays Unite in Support for Our Children.” Jeanne and her husband Jules set up a parental support group that eventually became PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). This group would grow to have countless meetings across the world demonstrating that family is at the root of defeating oppression.
The evolution of Pride has resonated with many because it is full of resilience. It is a movement that encompasses different communities coming together, whether oppressed because of race, poverty, gender, or other identities. It showcases the beauty of unity and empathy. Just like the colors in the rainbow, there is a beauty in seeing a blend of tones come together.
While people navigate how to best serve and continue their advocacy during this time, Todd shares advice he would have shared with his younger self and with other LGBT youth: “Go easy on yourself and learn to tame that voice that says you’re not good enough. The greatest thing that has helped me is connection with others and realizing the power of community”.
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