LGBTQA+ History Month: Looking Back Into The Past

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LGBTQA+ History Month: Looking Back Into The Past

Mohss Elaine, Staff Writer

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LGBTQA+ history month is close to its end, and it’s to remind us as a community that the plight of LGBTQA+ people cannot be ignored or forgotten.Despite the advocacy of the LGBTQA+ community, there has been erasure throughout the media, as being homosexual was considered perverse and was often only shown if represented in a negative manner. People such as Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, Harvey Milk, and so many more paved the way for our society to become more accepting and loving as a whole, abolishing the negative connotations to being in the LGBTQA+ community. Here’s how these figures have paved the way for LGBTQA+ people.

 

Sylvia Rivera, born on July 2nd of 1951, was an open supporter of the gay liberation and an activist for the transgender community.She was raised by her grandmother, who had negative views on the young child’s future with being feminine. She got through the negative times in her life by reaching out to the drag community and pursuing her life through that. She co-founded the Gay Liberation Front, which advocated for the sexual liberation of the LGBTQA+ population and the Gay Activists Alliance, which was made to focus on the gay and lesbian population during the Stonewall riots, which were a series of riots that occurred between the LGBTQA+ people of New York versus the police force of the time that targeted the gay community, which was one of the most important steps to the gay liberation movement. Sylvia was present and active during these riots. Both alliances were founded in 1969. Rivera constantly fought for the rights of gay, lesbian, and gender-nonconforming people through the means of public speaking, leading organizations, and going against operations, such as the Empire State Pride Agenda, who did not do enough for transgender rights. She wanted to emphasize the lack of support for gender-nonconforming people and drag queens alike, whose issues included being held back from military service and marriage equality issues. She fought for demarginalization until her passing on February 19th of 2002.

 

Marsha P Johnson, who was born on August 24th, 1945, was a gay liberation activist and drag queen. She founded the Gay Liberation Front with Sylvia Rivera, was an activist for the AIDS epidemic, and also founded S.T.A.R., otherwise known as the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries. S.T.A.R. was a street activist organization that continued the fight for gay, transgender, and gender-nonconforming rights. She eventually created the S.T.A.R. house, which was the first shelter for gay and trans youth, founded in 1972. Marsha had to fight for herself her entire life, with family issues, pursuit of a new life, and becoming an open activist for the things that mattered most to her. Marsha was one of the first people to fight back during the riots of Stonewall and was reported to be one of the leaders of the Stonewall escalation and uprising. Marsha and Sylvia were banned from gay pride parades for being drag queens, and “giving the event a bad name,” which the two didn’t see fit to listen to. They showed up anyway, advocating for gay rights. Marsha, not unlike her friend, fought for her and many others until her passing on July 6th of 1992.

 

Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man elected to California’s political office. As a child, he was considered a class clown and was involved in football. Eventually, he discovered his homosexuality but kept it a secret to pursue his goals in life. He graduated his school in Bay Shore, New York and majored in mathematics at the New York State College for Teachers in Albany. He came from New York City with a group of bisexual and gay men to the Castro District, a large district in central San Francisco. He used his knowledge of growing economic and political power and flamboyant speeches to run multiple times for office. His campaign eventually got him a seat in office in 1977 as city supervisor. With his seat in office, he passed a gay rights ordinance, becoming a martyr for the LGBTQA+ people of San Francisco. Later in his career, during the 1973 election, he gained 16,900 votes, coming in tenth place out of 32 candidates. HIs stance against government interference with private sexual matters and legalizing the use of marijuana gained the support of thousands and grew his political forwardness. Despite his following, he was not able to gain a seat in office because the elections were not organized to allow citizens of the district to elect their own supervisors. He continued to fight for a place in office, gaining political support from the LGBTQA+ community from his district until his passing on November 27th, 1978 by assassination.

 

These people fought for what they believed was right, and set a path for future generations to follow. Activists like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Harvey Milk, and many more have changed views, changed laws, and most importantly changed people, and thousands continue the work. With their passings, they’ve left a legacy for us as a society, LGBTQA+ or not, to follow and grow further. After all, history is still being made.

 

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