June 29 2020 – Matt Rogan
Pride season is a time of both celebration and reflection. It’s important that whilst we indulge in the party atmosphere of glitter and gay anthems, we don’t let it eclipse the sentiment behind Pride: a protest for visibility and inclusion.
We’ve seen that living through political unrest and a pandemic regime has restored the power to the people. So now more than ever, our restless energy needs to be translated into action.
Though we’ve taken huge strides towards social equality (thanks to the endurance of our radical predecessors), Pride is still a time of intersectional activism. As such, we’ve taken a look back at the history of LGBT+ movements to remind and inspire ourselves of how structural changes can result from a chain of action.
Homophile movement (1945-1968)
The end of World War Two marked the mobilisation of homosexual rights activists. After their persecution during the Holocaust, gay activists banded together and referred to themselves as ‘homophiles’ rather than ‘homosexuals’ in a bid to emphasise love over sex. Though peaceful in their protests and minor in their mandates, the homophile movement pushed for recognition. It was revolutionary for even existing – especially in westernised countries where our existence was still criminalised.
Gay Liberation movement (1969-1975)
Alongside the rise in black power and feminist movements of the 1960’s, the discourse of gay liberation was famously kick-started by the Stonewall Riots. Though it was not an overnight miracle, the protests resulted in the formation of the Gay Liberation Front; which had a seismic effect across the world, inspiring subsidiaries of its own.
These grassroots movement’s, led by a brigade of drag queens and queer activists (namely, Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Brenda Howard), campaigned for a revolution rather than reform.
‘Black trans lives were at the forefront of the LGBT+ liberation’
The all-encompassing term ‘gay’ replaced the word ‘homophile’ as it was felt that the latter catered towards a watered down, heteronormative version of queer culture. This was not the only reclamation of our tortured past. The pink triangle, once worn by homosexuals in Nazi concentration camps, became a commemorative symbol of our past and the rainbow became a hopeful symbol of our future.
As the movement became more envisioned, the manifesto became more non-conformist with slogans such as ‘out, loud and proud’ and ‘here and queer’ being popularised.
LGBT+ movement (1976-2000)
As the social stigmas and legal limitations started to soften, the rally of the LGBT+ movement became stronger. The ‘+’ appendage was added to include Q (queer) and I (intersex). This reflected the new-wave non-binary understanding of sexuality and gender.
Moderated LGBT+ representation trickled into our lives; from print media (Sapphoand Gay News), to politics (MP Maureen Colquhoun) and sports (footballer, Justin Fashanu).
Despite the backlash (and in Fashanu’s case, tragedy) that followed, they are now recognised as pioneering debuts that paved the way for public LGBT+ acceptance. It was not until the AIDS epidemic, which inspired projects such as ‘Silence=Death’, where covert acceptance was no longer enough for a dying generation that was being censored from mainstream attention.
We no longer ask for recognition, tolerance or acceptance; we now demand equality. From the repeal of section 28 of the Local Government Act (which prohibited the promotion of homosexuality) and the legalisation of same-sex marriage and adoption, we’ve come a long way. Besides outside opposition, there are also many internal issues that need to be addressed too, including but not limited to:
- The mental health spike: ‘over half of LGBT+ people have experienced depression in the last year’ alone.
- Racial prejudice: queer people of colour suffer double the amount of persecution yet receive half the amount of support from their own community (‘51% of BAME LGBT people face discrimination within the LGBT community’).
- Casual misogyny: our culture is particularly male-dominated.
- Trans and non-binary exclusion: often brushed aside as the last letter in the acronym – the fight for gender identity equality garners distinctively less publicity and approval.
- Excessive substance abuse: modern LGBT+ spaces and lifestyles are predominantly centred around insobriety.
In 2020, our towns and cities will not be hosting any large crowded Pride events. Whilst it’s easy to believe that our mission is complete, we cannot simply settle for what we have.
Ethical issues exist beyond buying Fairtrade and wearing repurposed clothing and we need to be as vocal about social change as we are about environmental change.
That is why this year, we encourage you to lend your support to the Black Lives Matter movement – especially dedicating your time, money and energy in protecting black trans lives. As a member or ally of the LGBT+ community, we can uplift the marginalised fraction of our already marginalised circle by signing petitions, donating money, writing to your MP, supporting black-owned businesses and educating yourself.