Pride month is coming to a close unfortunately, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. For a long time I have really been curious about LGBTQ+ history. My brain is super wired for history and English, they are where some of my deepest passions lie. I have a thirst for knowledge to figure out where my people came from. Who fought for my right to be who I am and love who I want up to this point. Of course I’ve learned about Harvey Milk and Stonewall, some of the most important parts of LGBTQ+ history, but I am still curious about the smaller warriors. The pioneers who haven’t become household names in the LGBTQ+ community, especially lesbian women because that’s how I identify.
So I set out on a quest! A quest for knowledge! I wanted to figure out who paved the way for me, so I hopped onto Google and poked around a bit. I found some really cool shit. Here’s some queer history for you 🙂
Babs was the first woman to picket for the equal employment of LGBTQ+ people by the United States Government back in the 1960s. She formed a group called The Daughters of Bilitis, which was the first lesbian civil rights group organized. They fought against police harassment and educating lesbian women about their rights. During this time gay and lesbian bars were subject to random raids by the police and many women, even women in the Daughters of Bilitis, feared they were under attack just because of who they were. Barbara Gittings was also a huge part of the campaign to get the American Psychiatric Association to not classify homosexuality as a mental illness in the 70s. She was on then front lines fighting for our rights! And guess what?! The LGBTQ+ organization, GLAAD, named an activism award after her. Oh honeyyyyy. That is all I want in life, to have an award named after me. Yesssss Babs! And there’s a monument for her in her hometown of Philadelphia. Get it girllllll!
I can’t write this post about lesbian heroes without writing a bit about Audre Lorde. She described her self at times as a “black lesbian feminist mother warrior poet.” Like seriously, what could be better than that? She often wrote poems about the injustices she faced for her race, sexual identity, and gender. She truly felt how fucked up it is to be a woman at times. Some times using you art to fight is the best way to roll. Her impact on the lesbian, feminist, and black communities is still felt today.
Stormé was a badass okay. Her physical altercation with the police is what is said to have incited the Stonewall riots in NYC in 1969. She was an out lesbian, who identified as a butch lesbian and also a person of color and is sometimes revered as the “Rosa Parks of the gay community.” She enjoyed being a bodyguard, performer (drag king), and MC at many gay clubs in New York City during the 60s and 70s. She was supposedly in handcuffs being beaten by the police, which incited a mob and eventually the Stonewall riots. She is known as being a huge supporter of the gay community and women’s rights.
Part of understanding who you are is understanding where you come from, I urge you all to seek out some LGBTQ+ history because 1. it is fascinating and full of badassery and 2. It is important. We must remember those who paved the way for us to be where we are today. When I was looking specifically for lesbian pioneers, I couldn’t really find much. I had to dig deep into the k-holes of the internet to find this information. It should be just as easy to find as history on our forefathers. We are important. We matter. Our history matters. Happy pride month to everyone, I hope it has been everything you wanted and more. Keep remembering. Keep celebrating.