The balmy winds of June have arrived just in time to ring in the Rainbows! Whilst global communities are having a fun, fabulous time celebrating Pride Month, we wanted to salute some of its most famous historical figures. Remember these people, for they fought for your rights.
Let’s take a trip down Memory Lane to revisit these LGBT heroes:
Marsha P. Johnson
“Name’s Marsha P. Johnson, officer… The ‘P’ stands for ‘pay it no mind’, so stop askin’ about my fancy get-up. I’ve been fightin’ all my life to survive these bigoted streets, and the STAR House is the only home I got. Hell, I’m the only family these boys know!”
A founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, Marsha P. Johnson was an African American gay liberation activist and self-identified drag queen. Known as an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights, Johnson was one of the prominent figures in the vanguard of the Stonewall uprising in 1969.
“After meeting Mr. Milk, I wanted to turn something ordinary into an extraordinary symbol of pride. I grabbed some motley fabrics and stitched them together… like a rainbow. We’re all like rainbows… beautifully diverse. Those colours began flying back in ’78 and continue to light up the sky ever since.”
Gilbert Baker was an American artist, gay rights activist and designer of the rainbow flag.
Baker’s flag became widely associated with LGBT rights causes, a symbol of gay pride that has become ubiquitous in the decades since its debut.
“Moving from Woodmere to Castro Street gave me a new lease on life. San Fran felt like home, but others weren’t so lucky. I had’ta bring us gays “out of the bars and into the streets”… To the polls and into jobs. Everyone deserves the life they truly want, y’know?”
Harvey Milk became one of the first openly gay officials in the United States in 1977, when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Tragically, he was killed the following year.
“You think the queer are mentally ill? Read a book! Look around, friend… We’re not picketing your daddy’s wars. Our battlefield’s the library… our neighborhoods… at the Stonewall and in The Ladder. We don’t want your compassion… we want equal treatment! The Daughters of Bilitis demand nothing more, nothing less!”
Barbara Gittings was a prominent activist for LGBT equality. She was a part of the movement to get the American Psychiatric Association to drop homosexuality as a mental illness in 1972. Her self-described life mission was to tear away the “shroud of invisibility” related to homosexuality, which had theretofore been associated with crime and mental illness.
Laurence Michael Dillon
“Some believe that enlightenment comes with ego-death. If so, then I have died a thousand deaths, over and over again… physically as a woman, mentally as a Westerner and spiritually as monk. I became the world’s first transgender. The first European Tibetan Buddhist. I am a phoenix, forever ascending.”
Laurence Michael Dillon (born Laura Maud Dillon) was a British physician and the first female-to-male transsexual to undergo phalloplasty. In 1946 Dillon published Self: A Study in Endocrinology and Ethics, a book about what would now be called transsexuality, though that term had not yet been coined. In 1958 his own trans history became public, and he fled to India, where he turned to Buddhism and was ordained a monk.