Every June, Pride month marks the beginning of a season of celebration and recognition of the accomplishments, challenges, and realities faced by members of the LGBTQ community. While many people mark the occasion by attending parades, symposiums, festivals, and rocking parties, this year things are going to be a bit different. As millions still remain at home under strict stay-at-home orders, a number of events have been pre-emptively postponed or even canceled out of an abundance of caution. This year, members of the community are more reflective than ever. It is a great time to remember those who have made a huge difference in the community, whether through sacrifice, community action, or fierce rebellion.
It’s hard to believe that only about 10 years ago it was illegal for lesbians, gays, and bisexuals to be out in the military. There was an actual military policy called, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ It allowed for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people to be active in the military, so long as no one knew about their sexual orientation. Because of this policy, gay people had to live in fear, stay in the closet, and remained constantly worried that someone would find out about their lifestyles. This policy created a very hostile workplace for active service members who were rumored or even perceived to be homosexual.
Many years before this shameful policy was ended, Leonard Matlovich became the very first active duty service person to come out as gay when he appeared on the cover of Time Magazine’s September 1975 issue. As a result of his bold and brave move, Matlovich was subsequently court marshaled and discharged despite his near-perfect service record. Today, Matlovich is remembered for his service to his country as well as to the LGBTQ community at large.
Considered to be one of the very first international movie stars at a time when films were still silent, Marlene Dietrich was a poised, striking, and mysterious figure. Her long career in film was marked by loads of controversy, including the whispered rumors about her sexuality. Dietrich was one of the first prominent bisexual film stars and rose to prominence during a time when women were only thought to be respectable if they followed patriarchal rules. Her proclivity to dress in a masculine manner and enjoyment of boxing also fell outside of conventional rules for the time. Thankfully, Dietrich was able to beat the odds and had a lengthy and successful career, which went on to inspire many more generations of LGBT individuals.
Stonewall is often remembered as the event that singlehandedly pushed the fight for LGBTQ rights to the forefront of American society. Before the Stonewall riots in 1969, gay and trans individuals were really only allowed to be open and comfortable in selective places and situations. Even then, they were frequently subjected to the abuses of corrupt police officers, hecklers, and abusers. Storme Delarverie has long been thought to be the catalyst of the Stonewall riots. Whether or not she actually threw the first punch is somewhat debated, but her spirit has long spurred members of the LGBTQ into action. Her Criminal Records are still available online – the details of which are vitally important to the community at large. As others stood on and watched her resist an unjust arrest, other patrons of the Stonewall bar began to riot. Consider searching here at Public Records Reviews for more information on participants of the Stonewall Riots for historical purposes. Get a full glimpse into what happened at Stonewall with accurate online records via Public Records Reviews.
In the 1980s, AIDS was relatively new, poorly understood, and absolutely devastated the gay community. At the time, virtually everyone who contracted the disease had only a few months or years to live as there were not yet any effective treatments. Prominent gay celebrities such as Keith Haring and Freddie Mercury made public statements and did not hide the effects of the disease before death, helping to add a layer of humanity to an otherwise anonymous and desensitized illness. Greg Louganis, an openly gay Olympic medalist, and world-renowned diver, came into the forefront when he announced that he had HIV in the early 1990s. Shortly after a diving injury, Louganis began to speak out more about his status and how people could or could not be infected. Because of his fame, Louganis made it possible for other HIV positive athletes to compete without fear of being banned or sanctioned.
Many more fighters, advocates, educators, and innovators in the LGBTQ community helped to pave the way for the current generation to where they are today. Of course, there are still more battles to rage and injustices to fight, but it is important to take a look at the progress that has already been made. Honoring those who fought for the rights of the LGBTQ community only serves to empower those fighting the good fight today.