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30 Days of PRIDE: Week 1

30 Days of PRIDE: Week 1

By Reagan Monday, Westside Summer Intern 2020

This week, we were focused on discussing the history of Pride. The Stonewall Uprising, and the trans women of color that made it possible, is the modern beginning of the LGBTQ+ equality movement. Following a routine police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, the near week-long riots led by Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, people fought for their right to exist in peace. On the one year anniversary of the riots, New York City had the first modern Pride parade. We owe a lot of the progress that was made to our trans sisters of color that fought alongside our community.

Along with Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, many LGBTQ+ folks don’t end up making it into the history books. We decided to highlight five different people and what they accomplished, while being loud and proud about who they were. Hatshepsut was an Egyptian queen during the 1400’s BCE, and while some would hesitate to call her transgender, it would not be wholly inaccurate. In fact, Hatshepsut called herself a king. She inscribed titles on granite monuments effectively referring to herself as, "her majesty, the king." This pivotal ruler of humanity's original great civilization further asserted her "kingship" by wearing the garb of a male monarch — even having a false beard made to fit her chin. She is shown in one statue with the striped nemes headdress and uraeus cobra, which are symbols of a king. In some temple reliefs, Hatshepsut is dressed in a traditional restrictive ankle-length gown but with her feet wide apart in the striding pose of the king. She ruled Egypt for 2 decades. Sally Ride was the first woman astronaut and space shuttle robotic arm operator in America. This Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree is known to have had a 27 year long relationship with a woman named Tam O'Shaughnessy before her death in 2012. Tammy Baldwin is the first out, lesbian woman elected into the US Senate (2013). She is the junior senator from Wisconsin, and she has recently called for a National LGBT Equality Day. Despite efforts even within the civil rights movement itself to overshadow him because he refused to be closeted even in the LGBT-oppressive 1940s and '50s, history was never able to blot out the fact that Bayard Rustin was the chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, at which Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his groundbreaking "I Have a Dream" speech. In 2013 President Obama posthumously awarded Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Rustin's longtime partner, Walter Naegle, accepted the medal on his behalf. The campaign to persuade the United States Postal Service to issue a postage stamp honoring Rustin for his work and his achievements continues to make progress. For LGBT people of faith, Rev. Troy Perry is the father of modern queer religiosity and organized spirituality. Founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, which now has a global presence that grew from the first congregation in Los Angeles, Perry is also a voice for bridging generations within our community.

We also wanted to highlight Knoxville’s history of Pride during this week. The earliest public celebration I was able to find a description of was a Gay Pride Picnic held at Tyson Park on July 2, 1977. Mentioned in the newspaper beforehand, it apparently drew a crowd to hear a speech by F. Randall Hill, the first pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church. The first Pride parade and rally was held in an unrenovated downtown in 1991. It drew 350 participants—reportedly the biggest such rally in the state that year. At the helm was a visiting celebrity, Atlanta’s lesbian civil-rights activist Pat Hussain, as the grand marshal. It also drew some 20 protesters, some of whom had traveled from as far away as Chattanooga to demonstrate against the rally. The first Knoxville PrideFest was in 2006, when the Knoxville Human Rights Group (KHRG), now the Tennessee Equality Project- Knox County Committee, first took on the task of organizing an LGBTQ+ Pride Festival in Knoxville, TN. There had been other “Knoxville Pride” organizations with various festivals/events over the years, but none had been able to continue successfully for the long-term. The purpose of Knoxville Pridefest was to provide a safe, public event where the LGBTQ+ community and its supporters could fellowship in a show of solidarity supporting equal rights for all people. With limited funds and just a handful of volunteers, the first couple of Knoxville Pridefest festivals consisted of 10-25 booths with primarily community groups, supportive churches and a smattering of vendors. The entertainment consisted of a few speakers and a dozen or so primarily local musicians/performers who graciously donated their time and talents. The few hundred attendees that came specifically for the festival were hard to distinguish among the thousands that regularly crowded our home on Market Square in Downtown Knoxville. However, as the word spread of the safe space, welcoming atmosphere, growing crowds and community spirit, the festival quickly became more than anybody could imagine. In 2017, Knoxville PrideFest had to relocate to the Knoxville Coliseum due to increased participation and massive growth.

The last thing we wanted to hit on this week was steps forward for the LGBTQ+ community. Some moments we included were:

1961- Illinois becomes the first state to decriminalize homosexuality

1969- Stonewall Riots begin, mark the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement

1970- “First” pride parade in NYC

1973- AMA voted that homosexuality was no longer deemed a mental disorder

1978- Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag

1997- Hate Crime Prevention Act introduced into Congress

Ellen comes out

1998- Coretta Scott King advocated for civil groups to end homophobia

2000- Vermont legalizes same sex civil unions

2004- First same sex marriage happens in Massachusetts

2009- Obama passes Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act

2011- UN endorses LGBTQ rights for the first time

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed, allowing LGBTQ to serve openly in the military

2014- Laverne Cox becomes first trans woman to be nominated for an Emmy

2015- Supreme Court case legalized gay marriage in all 50 states

2018- Love, Simon is first film from a major studio to discuss gay romance/adolescence

Next week, we’ll be looking at gender, sexuality, pronouns, and family.

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