Pride Month: Leadership Spotlight Series

Pride Month: Leadership Spotlights
Matt Nazario-Miller

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is celebrated each June to recognize the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York City, and has been formally recognized by multiple United States Presidents. The events at Stonewall, led by trans women of color activists, was a tipping point for what became known as the Gay Liberation Movement in the U.S. The Library of Congress shares more about the purpose of Pride Month:

"This month-long celebration demonstrates how LGBTQ Americans have strengthened our country, by using their talent and creativity to help create awareness and goodwill."

The KLS Community joins in this celebration of LGBTQ Americans, and below, we will share about resources that spotlight just a few LGBTQ leaders who have made an impact in the United States. 

Harvey Milk: Bay Area LGBTQ Rights Leader

Photo of LGBTQ leader and San Francisco Board of Supervisors member, Harvey Milk

One of the most well-known Bay Area LGBTQ leaders in the movement for LGBTQ civil rights, Harvey Milk was one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. From the Harvey Milk Foundation's official biography:

"Harvey Milk, was a visionary civil and human rights leader who became one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. Milk’s unprecedented loud and unapologetic proclamation of his authenticity as an openly gay candidate for public office, and his subsequent election gave never before experienced hope  to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) people everywhere at a time when the community was encountering widespread hostility and discrimination."

Read more here to learn about the life of impact and legacy Harvey Milk left behind.

Watch: Read-aloud Picture Book - Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag

From Brightly Storytime: "Ms. Linda reads a moving and empowering true story for young readers that traces the life of the Gay Pride Flag, from its beginnings in 1978 with social activist Harvey Milk and designer Gilbert Baker to its spanning of the globe and its role in today’s world. Get the book here: "

Marsha P. Johnson & Sylvia Rivera: Leaders of the NYC Stonewall Riots

Photo of LGBTQ activist, Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson was an iconic Black activist in the early movement for LGBTQIA+ civil rights in the United States. After experiencing a difficult childhood due to anti-LGBTQIA+ ideologies, Marsha moved to New York City's West Village in 1967 to forge a new life safe from discriminatory violence. Shortly thereafter, in 1969, Marsha was present at the Stonewall Inn and is said to have thrown the first brick, causing the historic Stonewall Inn Riots that launched the modern LGBTQIA+ civil rights movement in the United States. 

After the Stonewall Inn Riots, Marsha became friends with fellow LGBTQIA+ activist of color Sylvia Rivera. Together, they co-founded the organization that came to be known as STAR, a group focused on supporting LGBTQIA+ community members (particularly youth) experiencing homelessness in New York City. During the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, Johnson dedicated her work to AIDS activism to increase awareness about the crisis and advocate for more affordable AIDS medication.

In the 1980s, Johnson became a tireless AIDS activist, demonstrating with the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) to help build awareness and lower the prices of AIDS medication.

Read more about Marsha P. Johnson here.

Photo of Sylvia Rivera, LGBTQ rights activist.

Sylvia Rivera was a remarkable LGBTQIA+ rights activist born to Puerto Rican and Venezuelan parents in 1951. Rivera was a regular patron at the now-famous Stonewall Inn, and she was present during the 1969 Stonewall Riots. Activist work of Rivera's included co-founding STAR, a group focused on supporting LGBTQIA+ community members (particularly youth) experiencing homelessness in New York City.

Sylvia was a fierce advocate for those on the margins of the LGBTQIA+ civil rights movement following the Stonewall Riots. Her organizing work included the fight against the exclusion of transgender people from the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in New York, and Sylvia was particularly focused on the rights of people of color, trans people, and those experiencing poverty.

Continue reading about Sylvia Rivera here.