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Pioneers of the LGBTQ+ Community

Macmillan Employee
Macmillan Employee
2 1 139

June is Pride Month! Every year, organizations from all over the world hold events to raise awareness on LGBTQ+ issues while also celebrating their pride in being a part of the community.

In honor of Pride Month, I wanted to highlight some of the pioneers who had a major impact on the LGBTQ+ community.

Marsha P. Johnson- Marsha Johnson was a major advocate for the LGBTQ+ rights and had made significant contributions to the community. Originally from New Jersey, Marsha moved to Greenwich Village as it was one of the few places in the country that was a safe haven for the LGBTQ+ community¹. She was an active participant of the community and was one of the front-line protesters during the StoneWall riots². Marsha continued to advocate for the community and co-founded STAR ( Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) and helped create one of the first homeless shelters for LGBTQ+ youth³.

Edith “Edie” Windsor- Edie Windsor was one of the biggest catalysts for overturning the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) through her case Windsor v. United States. At the time before her case,  Edie Windsor's marriage was not recognized by the federal government and after the death of her partner, she was ineligible for deductions on her estate tax⁴. She had sued and challenged Section 3 of DOMA which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman⁵. Her Supreme Court win was the first of many for the LGBTQ+ community; subsequently, the Supreme Court was responsible for helping overturn Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act through Hollingsworth v. Perry, and Obergefell v. United States, respectively.

Keith Haring-World renowned artist Keith Haring played an instrumental role in raising awareness to the issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community. Keith Haring, originally from Pennsylvania, moved to New York City towards the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic which he then contracted later in 1987⁶.  Working with multiple organizations and using his art, Keith Haring helped challenge the stigma of being gay and having HIV/AIDs. His artwork is renowned, it’s almost impossible to grow up in New York City during the 90s without seeing his artwork plastered in apparel, posters, and sometimes even mugs.

The list goes on and one, these are just some of the people who had made an impact in the LGBTQ+ community. To learn more, feel free to click on these resources from National Geographic, LGBTQ History, and CNN

1. Gillian Brockell, “The Transgender Women at Stonewall Were Pushed out of the Gay Rights Movement. Now They Are Getting a Statue in New York.,” The Washington Post (June 12, 2019), https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2019/06/12/transgender-women-heart-stonewall-riots-are-gettin....
2. Ibid
3. Ibid
4. "United States v. Windsor." Oyez. Accessed June 29, 2020. https://www.oyez.org/cases/2012/12-307.
5. Ibid
6. Ending HIV. “Gay Art Legend Keith Haring.” Ending HIV, May 29, 2020. https://endinghiv.org.au/blog/legends-keith-haring/.
1 Comment

Another great source is OutHistory.org

About the Author
Suzanne K. McCormack, PhD, is Professor of History at the Community College of Rhode Island where she teaches US History, Black History and Women's History. She received her BA from Wheaton College (Massachusetts), and her MA and PhD from Boston College. She is currently at work on a study of the treatment of women with mental illness in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century Massachusetts and Rhode Island.