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Goldberg Kohn marks Pride Month by sharing stories of LGBTQ trailblazers who inspire us

June 8, 2021

June is LGBTQ Pride Month! Pride began as a way to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, with the first Pride parades taking place on the first anniversary weekend of Stonewall in 1970. Over time, Pride parades and celebrations during the month of June have become ubiquitous throughout many parts of the world. Pride, as opposed to shame and social stigma, is the outlook that bolsters most LGBTQ movements, and Pride Month has become a time to promote the self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people.

Chicago's Pride Parade will not be taking place this month due to COVID-19, but there is a possibility Pride events will take place this fall. In the meantime, below are several ways you can support and celebrate the LGBTQ community.

  • Take a moment to learn about gender pronouns—why they matter, and what to do if you make a mistake.
  • Show your pride with clothing that supports the Human Rights Campaign's fight for LGBTQ equality. A simple T-shirt or pin can make a big difference in helping LGBTQ individuals feel safe and less alone.
  • Show up! The Lighthouse Foundation has various events throughout the month of June to shine a light on the Black Queer community's talent, resilience, and joy. Pride in the Park is an outdoor musical festival held in Grant Park on June 26th and 27th (capacity will be limited and proof of vaccination is required). Keep an eye out for more events announced throughout the month, and check out this compilation of Chicago area events.

During Pride Month, we also celebrate the achievements of LGBTQ individuals and their contributions toward LGBTQ equality. Brief bios of a few notable LGBTQ activists are included below.

 Marsha Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson was one of the prominent figures of the Stonewall uprising, a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, and later an outspoken AIDS activist. She served as a mother figure to the drag queens, trans women, and homeless youth of Christopher Street in New York City. She was a central figure in the beginning of the gay liberation movement of the '70s.

 Bayard Rustin 

Bayard Rustin was a close friend of and advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr. and organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. However, because he was an openly gay man, he did not receive wide recognition for his integral role in the civil rights movement. Despite his sexuality being used against him as a threat to the greater civil rights movement, Rustin remained a political and gay activist who worked to bring the AIDS crisis to the NAACP's attention.

 Ifti Nasim

Ifti Nasim was a gay Pakistani poet who moved to the United States to avoid persecution for his sexuality. He spent much of his adult life in Chicago, and was inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame in 1996. He helped found Sangat, one of the earliest South Asian LGBTQ organizations in the U.S. His collection of poems, Narman, is thought to be the first gay-themed book of poetry written and published in Urdu.

 Lani Kaahumanu 

Lani Ka’ahumanu is a bisexual activist and author. She founded BiPOL, the first bisexual political organization and co-edited "Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out," the seminal bisexual anthology. She has been instrumental in creating greater bisexual visibility and inclusion within the LGBTQ community.

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