Pride month is an important date in the calendar and is celebrated every June as a tribute to those involved in the Stonewall Riots in 1969. When police raided the Stone Wall inn in Manhattan in 1969, they didn’t expect patrons and onlookers to fight back, it was described as a riot but in today’s society can be know as a rebellion. The rebellion signified an important moment in history and helped start the modern civil rights LGBTQIA+ movement.
Pride month is a month-long celebration, and takes place around the world, allowing for peaceful protests that help to raise awareness to political challenges and issues the LGBTQIA+ community face. Parades are one of the main features of pride, an explosion of colour, light and personality fill these parades. The largest parade takes place in New York, which makes sense as it’s the home of pride, it generally takes place on the last weekend of June and attracts large crowds. Pride month is so important, and the community has come such a long way since the riots in 1969, however there is still social injustice across the world that the LGBTQIA+ community face daily.
Here are five activists that you need to know about, who have campaigned and brought awareness to the community for most of their lives.
1. Marsha P. Johnson
Marsha P Johnson died in 1992, at the age of 46. Her body was discovered in the Hudson River, and the death was ruled a suicide by NYPD, however friends and family shared disbelief to this ruling. Since her death, she has gained more and more recognition for her work towards helping the LGBTQIA+ community and the social injustice that they faced. She was key activist, drag artist, sex worker and model for Andy Warhol. She had a large presence in the street life of New York in the 60’s and 70’s. Marsha was at the Stone Wall riots in 1969 and became a key figure, after the riots she continued to campaign and dedicated her whole life fight inequality. Marsha and her friend Sylvia Rivera set up STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) supporting young transgender people. Netflix brought out a documentary in 2017, ‘the life and death of Marsha P Johnson’, it was inspiring and has helped to share her story to a mainstream audience.
2. Laverne Cox
Laverne Cox is a phenomenal actor and LGBTQIA+ activist. She made her acting debut in Orange is the new black, portraying a trans women sent to prison for committing credit card fraud, her role in the series is so important as it helps shed light on many of the challenges trans women have to face daily. She is one of the most famous trans actors in the world and was nominated for an Emmy following her performance in OITNB. She is open about her own life experiences and talks about how her experiences have got her to where she is today. In 2014 she was featured on the cover of Time Magazine, she was the first transgender women to be on the cover and set a precedent for the community, the story was aptly names ‘The transgender tipping point’.
3. Elliot Page
Elliot Page is the Oscar-Nominated star of Juno and The Umbrella Academy, and in November 2020 he came out as Transgender, with a beautiful message on Instagram. Before Elliot came out as transgender, he was one of the most influential members of the LGBTQIA+ community in Hollywood, as he came out as gay in February 2014. He is an activist for the community and delivers speeches and promotes the need for social equality on social media and in interviews. He speaks candidly about being able to live his life as his true self and has awareness of the platform he has. He featured on the cover of Time Magazine in March 2021, where he discussed the political cost of anti-trans campaigns.
RuPaul Andre Charles, also known as RuPaul, is arguably one of the biggest stars on the LGBTQAI+ scene, he is most famously known for Producing, hosting, and judging the reality series RuPaul’s drag race, if you don’t know about this series get to know. RuPaul’s drag race is iconic and brought drag to mainstream media. The show features challenges and catwalks and features some of the best drag queens in the world, it also features scenes in the dressing room where the queens talk about their life and personal struggles, and really helps to shed light on the inequalities that drag queens and members of the LGBTQIA+ community still face today. RuPaul himself has featured in Time Magazine's ‘Most 100 Influential People’ and is constantly paving the way to educate others about the LGBTQIA+ community.
5. Queer Eyes 'Fab Five'
Queer eye is a revamp of the show that first aired in the early 2000’s, the new series has been brought back to life by Netflix with an all new ‘Fab Five’. The fab five could’ve all featured separately in this article, but I wanted to include them together, as they are all from the same show and all share the same values and campaign for the same equality. The ‘fab five’ is made up of Karamo Brown, Tan France, Jonathan Van Ness, Bobby Berk, and Antoni Porowski, who are all experts in different areas, from fashion to cooking. The show is so important as they help men to truly become themselves, the ‘fab five’ also offer personal and relationship advice. This show, also like drag race, has allowed for the inequalities the LGBTQIA+ community face to be brought to mainstream media, and allows for the discussion of existing social issues. The ‘Fab Five’ are proud of who they are and campaign for the LGBTQIA+ community outside of the show as well.
This is just a small selection of people who are key figures in the LGBTQIA+ community, and I think it is inspiring to hear their stories and find out who they truly are, and to see all that they are doing to try and inspire equality.