It’s incredible to think that Stonewall is reaching 50, but here we are. Five decades on from a focal point of modern queer liberation, LGBTQ people can today live lives that would have been in many ways unimaginable back then. (Though, interestingly, despite the Stonewall Riots happening in America, the United States has lagged behind many allies on liberation.)
This June, as a nod to the moment that in common queer parlance sparked our liberation, we will see WorldPride come to New York City for the very first time, and it’s a perfect time to celebrate. A month-long celebration throughout June, WorldPride (which has welcomed Hornet as a Platinum Media Sponsor) includes more than 50 events, from rallies to parties to lectures, of course culminating with the world-famous NYC Pride March on Sunday, June 30.
This year, Pride is one for the record books.
The last five decades have been busy, and there’s a lot since June 28, 1969, for the LGBTQ community to be proud of. Here’s a partial list:
1. WorldPride finally makes its way to New York City
What started in Rome in 2000 — and has since brought millions together in Jerusalem, London, Toronto and Madrid — is finally making its way to America. WorldPride 2019 takes place in the same city where the Stonewall Riots, long considered the spark which lit the fire of the greater queer civil rights movement, rocked the establishment.
2. Queer people are taking over TV
We’ve gone from queer characters being the punchlines of jokes to making the jokes. Not to mention a slew of LGBTQ faces behind the scenes of all our favorite series.
3. New queer cinema
Sure, they’re not all masterpieces, but over the last few decades queer people have been able to tell their own stories — authentically — on-screen in a way they never could before.
To be fair, straight people have been known to eat food between breakfast and lunch, too, but it’s not a pretty sight. These days brunch is just a part of food culture, and yep, us queer people take credit for that. Mimosa, anyone?
5. Pride colors on the White House
After the Supreme Court recognized the freedom to marry, the White House lit up like a rainbow flag. It was a thing of beauty.
Since the mid-’80s this organization has helped lead a revolution in the way media of all stripes has treated us.
7. Happy endings
Gone are the days of every single gay novel ending in death and despair.
Treatment now exists to stop the spread of HIV, in several forms and for people of all HIV statuses. All we have to do now is smash Gilead’s barbaric price-inflation.
9. Gay athletes
LGBTQ people have been a part of sports since the dawn of time, but these days athletes are increasingly able to be open and proud across every sport.
10. The @lgbt_history Instagram account
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“How can I tell you. How can I convince you . . . that everyday you wake up alive, relatively happy, and a functioning human being, you are committing a rebellious act. You as an alive and functioning queer are a revolutionary.” – Queers Read This, June 1990 [CW] . We first posted this image in June 2016, as the queer community reeled from the massacre at Pulse. As individuals, we—Matthew and Leighton—were angry, sad, and vulnerable; as queer historians, we knew that attacks on our community—especially the more marginalized members, including the sacred Latinx crowd at Pulse—were nothing new. As @lgbt_history, there was only one way for us to respond to Pulse, only one image that summarized what we felt, one perfect photo of an angry queer demanding respect from a hostile world: “THAT’S MR FAGGOT TO YOU.” . For generations, queer people have faced overwhelming oppression at the hands of a violent majority, and yet we’ve grown stronger. Too often, history credits the compromisers and the reformers, but those figures almost always arrived on the backs of radicals and heroic misfits who organized, mourned, and fought back together. . When queer people recognize that we have every right to be angry, when we acknowledge the anger of the more marginalized among us and take responsibility for our own oppressive behavior, and when we turn our anger into action, our community is among the most revolutionary forces for good the world has ever known. . History proves that. . Mr. Faggot, a photo taken by our friend Robert Fisch (@nyc1gwm), is prominently featured in our book, “We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation,” which comes out in less than an hour. . “Now our historical journey has been fleshed out,” Joan Nestle, co-founder of @lesbianherstoryarchives wrote of ‘We Are Everywhere,’ “showing the joy of collective action, the living texture of our determined struggle for our right to be, in the fullness of our differences. Beware liberations that create new exiles. . . . This is history that reaches into the now with a visual richness that makes memory a living body.” . You are a revolutionary. Be proud. #WeAreEverywhere #Night
No other Instagram account does such a perfect job of documenting our shared history. Curated by Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown, it’s a collection of images that document moments we never want to forgive and some moments we never want to relive.
11. Conventions and gatherings celebrating LGBTQ nerd culture
Whether they’re focused on comics, gaming or other aspects of larger nerd culture, there’s no shortage of conventions and other gatherings founded with LGBTQ people in mind, from Flame Con, New York City’s first LGBTQ comic convention, to HavenCon (Austin), Outlantacon (Atlanta) and OUT Con (Miami).
12. LGBTQ History Month
Every month is a month for remembering our vast queer past, but October is a particularly important time to reflect.
We’ve fully claimed the rainbow for our community, and it’s here to stay.
14. LGBTQ choruses
Sing out, Louise! It seems that every major city these days has a Gay Men’s Chorus or other singing outfit dedicated to sharing the beautiful voices of LGBTQ people. Support these organizations!
15. Gay rodeos
Proof that queer people really are everywhere, the International Gay Rodeo Association came about in 1985 and is still going strong.
16. The ARO and ACE communities
A few years ago, few knew what it meant to be aromantic or asexual. Now the concepts are becoming a more commonplace part of our conversations.
17. Partner health benefits
An advancement that literally saves lives, there was a time not so long ago when LGBTQ people couldn’t access their partner’s health care.
A lifeline for allies, PFLAG makes a persuasive case for the healing power of love.
19. ADA access at Stonewall
The Stonewall Inn was shamed recently for trying to deny access to a visually impaired person, and an important lesson was learned: Queer spaces must be accessible to everyone, and if someone tries to deny you entry due to a disability, you can raise hell.
20. Bayard Rustin
One of the Civil Rights Movement’s key architects, Bayard Rustin is sometimes unjustifiably overlooked by historians. His contributions were vital, particularly the 1941 March on Washington, which he organized.
21. Queer people in music
LGBTQ artists and musicians date back even further than Stonewall, but in the years since the birth of our queer civil rights movement, LGBTQ people in music are everywhere, making every playlist better in the process. Check out our comprehensive encyclopedia of LGBTQ musicians and bands here.
22. ACT UP
The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power kept the brick-throwing of Stonewall going throughout the epidemic. It’s because of them that we’re where we are today, truly.
23. Adoption access
While still a battleground, queer people have fought every day of their lives to form the families of their choice.
24. Real World: San Francisco
One of the earliest depictions of a real-life gay person on TV, it was uplifting and also heart-wrenching to witness the last days of Pedro Zamora in 1994.
25. Marriage equality
It’s been the law of the land stateside since June 26, 2015, but there are currently 31 nations worldwide where “love is love” and gays and lesbians are able to marry the people they love. Most recently we’ve watched as marriage equality has even creeped its way into Asia, defying societal norms.
26. Queer clergy
In increasing numbers, religions are rejecting pointless homophobia of the past and embracing queer clerics.
27. Coming out
Let’s raise a toast to everyone who’s had the courage to step out of the closet. Come out, come out, wherever you are!
28. Genre fiction
It used to be that the only place you’d find queer characters was in the “queer literature” section of your local bookstore. Those days are long gone; now there are tons of queer romances, mysteries, thrillers, sci-fi epics, and more.
A trans nonprofit based in the UK, Mermaids has been enduring unprecedented attacks from TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists), and it’s important to stand alongside our trans brothers and sisters and the organization.
30. Queer Eye
While the original TV series feels a bit dated today, and the reboot is far from perfect, the show has proven to be another example of queer excellence, and places LGBTQ visibility in the living rooms of millions.
31. Queer heads of state
Countries like Iceland and Luxembourg have had openly queer heads of state; maybe America will catch up some day soon.
It’s no secret that queer people made the performing arts great.
Let’s be real: there’s no particular athletic reason for jockstraps to exist. They’re just a sex thing. Hooray!
34. Mama Dragons
A support group for the Mormon (and, increasingly, ex-Mormon) moms of queer kids. Who could have imagined such a group 50 — or even 25 — years ago?
35. Rainbow crosswalks
They’re not exactly out there saving lives, but rainbow crosswalks are an important reminder that when straight people wander into gayborhoods, they’re our guests.
36. Lesbian farmers
There’s a good chance that food you just ate came from hard-working women out west.
37. Queer characters of all sorts in video games
LGBTQ visibility has found its way into the gaming industry, largely because there are more and more queer people behind the scenes of your favorite games, and they have stories to tell!
38. Reclaim Pride
Hats off to the radical activists who won’t let us forget the origins of Pride.
39. The removal of homosexuality from the DSM
We were all “cured” overnight in 1974 when it was decreed by the American Psychological Association that homosexuality could no longer be classified as a mental illness.
40. The AIDS Memorial
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— "#JuanDubose was #KeithHaring's boyfriend. Their relationship ended in 1985. . Juan was quite a successful DJ playing at Area and many of the best clubs in New York City. He was so successful in fact that @MickJagger had him do the mixing on his first solo album. Juan worked with more than just Mick and many on those stars visited his DJ booth. . I never heard Juan talk ill of Keith even after he had dumped him telling him that there were just too many boys to experience and being with Juan held him down. . Juan died in 1989 almost exactly a year before Keith did. I attended the funeral. Then Keith and I were asked to attend the burial with the family and the reception at Juan's Mother's apartment in the Washington Carver Projects in East Harlem. It was the first time I noticed a Kaposi's sarcoma lesion on Keith's neck. . At Mrs Dubose's home, she gave me three of Juan's master tapes. I was moved to tears and played them until they snapped. Keith also had many of Juan's session and would play them in his studio while he painted. Keith also was the one who paid for Juan's hospital bills and funeral. . Juan never did stop loving Keith and I know Keith felt guilty pushing away the one relationship with a man who was sensitive and truly loved him. . Keith died almost exactly a year later in February 1990." — by Timothy Lee Dean @timmydeanlee . 📷 © #AndyWarhol . #whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids
A stunning tribute to the people lost to an epidemic brought on by an inhumane government.
41. The Trevor Project
Quite literally saving lives every hour of every day.
42. King James I (yep, the Bible guy) was a big ol’ homo
It was more than 400 years ago that King James I of England met his most famous gay lover, George Villiers, and soon became entranced. Though many remember King James for his namesake translation of the Bible, his queer relationships make him a truly fascinating historical figure.
43. Ethical nonmonogamy
Monogamy is nothing more than a social construct, and we all know what queer people think of those ….
44. Bash Back
An anarchist collective that fought back against anti-LGBTQ violence.
45. The Mattachine Society
It’s hard to imagine that only a few decades ago LGBT organizations were secret and furtive, and the threat of being discovered so serious members often feared for their lives. It was in that environment that Harry Hay and some friends founded a radical new organization that transformed the face of LGBT liberation and ushered in many of the freedoms we enjoy today. It was called The Mattachine Society, and we owe it a debt of unending gratitude.
46. The Wild West
Let’s just say it was actually much gayer than you think.
47. RuPaul’s Drag Race
Whether you’re a weekly watcher or not, it’s an undeniably amazing sight to see queens rising to international fame on Drag Race, television’s most diverse program along sexuality, gender and racial lines.
In the mid-1980s — amid the Reagan administration’s neglect of the AIDS epidemic and an increasingly vocal Christian “moral majority” — a gay splinter of punk rock broke off and began to challenge societal disapproval of queerness through music, zines, art and film. This movement eventually became known as Queercore, and it’s had a lasting social impact.
49. Radical anti-canonicity
Canonical fiction is a capitalist invention, and if you decide that your favorite characters are queer, well, then they are.
Hey, you’re queer. That’s rad. Good for you.