Honoring LGBT Activists Throughout History #PrideMonth

Honoring LGBT Activists Throughout History #PrideMonth

Anytime is a good time to celebrate yourself and all of the wonderful things that make you unique. #PrideMonth is specifically set aside for everyone to celebrate along with you. Acceptance of the differences between us that make us unique is the premise of Pride Month, and with that in mind, we would like to honor the trailblazers that helped make it a reality. We have put together a list of important figures and activists in LGBTQ+ history to remember their contributions and the lasting impact they have created in society.

Alice Nkom

https://africandefenders.org/alice-nkom/

Alice Nkom is a lawyer that specializes in human rights in addition to being an active LGBTQ activist and ally. She is from Cameroon where it is still against the law to practice homosexuality. In fact, it is still criminalized in the country. Beatings, police entrapment, and worse are regular practices that she has been working to defeat for decades. Although she is not part of the LGBTQ community, she firmly believes and advocates for the rights of those in the LGBTQ. In 2003 she founded the Association for the Defence of Homosexuality to help further her cause and also give those in the community a place to seek help when in need.

Josephine Baker

https://historyofyesterday.com/the-glorious-and-passionate-life-of-josephine-baker-48d6d51e3e3a

Many people may remember Josephine Baker as a world-class entertainer or even as a French spy. While both are true, she was also one of the most well-known African-American performers who was also openly bisexual. She never shied away from embracing her true self and she used her fame and position to advocate for gay rights and desegregation. She performed in a range of venues and always made her thoughts and feelings known. While this may seem simple in modern times, in the mid-1900s, the world was not as accepting of people of color or those who were of the LGBTQ+ community.

Sylvia Rivera

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/forgotten-latina-trailblazer-lgbt-activist-sylvia-rivera-n438586

The LGBTQ+ community has many members, but one of the most vocal but often overlooked from the past is Sylvia Rivera. This Latina has been a staunch trans activist regardless of how other people felt about it. Sylvia and Marsha P. Johnson went on to create Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to offering services such as housing, healthcare, and more to homeless LGBTQ+ youth in New York.

Marsha P. Johnson

https://www.tatler.com/article/who-is-marsha-p-johnson-drag-queen-gay-activist

Marsha P. Johnson is one of the most prolific names of the LGBT movement, but she was also a great person on her own. She was well known as a model for Andy Warhol in addition to being a sex worker, drag queen, and an outspoken activist. As a trans, queer, African American, she faces a lot of challenges in her life. However, she always advocated for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, including her own. She always said there is no reason to have parades unless all gay citizens have basic rights in America. In fact, she was one of the driving forces behind the gay rights movement in 1960. Many believe that she is the force and the catalyst behind Pride’s marches, and although she met with a tragic end, her efforts have borne fruit today.

Laverne Cox

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laverne_Cox

Laverne Cox is a talented performer known for her role in Orange Is the New Black. Cox has been an avid supporter of LGBTQ+ communities and has always used her fame to promote equality in healthcare. As the first African American Trans individual to secure an Emmy nomination, breaking barriers and advocating for rights is just a part of her rich story.

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Heinrich_Ulrichs

When it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs is one of the oldest trailblazers. He is one of, if not the first to come out in public and has been hailed as the founder of the current, modern gay rights movement. He was a homosexual emancipation pioneer in a time where there was little to no tolerance the world over. As a judge in Germany, he was forced to give up his position when a co-worker discovered his sexual preferences. Following his forced resignation, he turned his attention to advocating for the rights of gay people everyone. He even spoke to Congress in Germany in 1867 placing demands for equal legal and social rights for those with all sexual preferences.

Michael Dillon

https://tricycle.org/magazine/michael-dillon/

Sexual orientation and identifying as LGBTQ+ used to be the limit of a person’s expression until gender transformations were created. If it were not for Michael Dillon, transitions may not even exist today, and for that, the LGBTQ+ community is thankful. He was the first person to undergo hormone therapy and undergo phalloplasty as part of his transition. He even served in the navy as a male doctor until it was discovered that he was trans. He eventually fled to India and became a monk, but his contribution will never be forgotten.

Edith Windsor

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/obituaries/edith-windsor-remembered-as-great-pioneer-for-gay-rights/

Same-sex marriage being ruled as a constitutional right is one of the biggest wins for the community to date. None of it would have come to be without the help and support of Edith Windsor. She was engaged to her wife Thea Spyer for 40 years, whom she finally married in Canada in 2007. Following the death of her wife, Edith Windsor was taxed far beyond the norm for her deceased wife’s estate since the US didn’t recognize same-sex marriages. She took the case to court, and not only to the court, but she also took it all the way to the top. In 2013 she won her case in the Supreme Court which led to the national ruling on same-sex marriages in 2015.

Bayard Rustin

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/08/20/march-on-washington-bayard-rustin/2678505/

Bayard Rustin was a civil rights activist and most known for his association with Martin Luther King Jr. and the famed march on Washington in 1963. He also was an openly gay black man who constantly advocated for gay rights and equal healthcare. Many in history are unaware of just how close he and Martin Luther King Jr. were and how critical his role was in the civil rights movement due to his sexuality. Many people threatened to spread lies and filth, so he took his role to the shadows to protect his friends and help further support the civil rights movement. However, the NAACP and the LGBTQ+ community recognize his constant efforts regarding gay rights and his work bringing the AIDs epidemic to light.

Celebrating #PrideMonth All Year Long With History That Matters

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Recent Corporate Commitments To Racial Equality

Recent Corporate Commitments To Racial Equality

Racial equality is an issue that has been on the books for quite some time. However, in recent years, the spotlight has been on companies and what they are doing to implement real change. The idea of inclusive growth is neither new nor a passing trend. The nation’s legacy of racism and the growing public outcry for inclusivity has spurred business leaders in the private and economic sectors to do what they can to help level the playing field.

The Corporate Response To Call For Change

The pandemic has affected the Black population more severely than any other in America. When paired with the wholesale abuse of power by the police department and the justice system, movements that support people of color have picked up steam. NAACP, Black Lives Matter, UndocuBlack Network, and the Color of Change among many others have called for those in power, specifically corporations, to support change and racial equality in the country. While businesses usually take a neutral stance in issues of politics, religion, and race, these calls simply could not be left unaddressed. Many leaders in both the private and public sectors have publicly shown their support of the African American Community. The method in which support has been shown varies depending on the company, but every ounce of support is appreciated.

How Corporate America Is Supporting Racial Equality

Some companies are using philanthropy to show their support while others are giving direct donations to communities in need. While these are welcomed, they are more of a stop-gap than a working solution. Changing business practices by investing in POC communities and making racial equality changes from the top will support more lasting change. In various industries, CEOs have taken note and made a point of adding more black and other people of color not only to their employee roster but also into higher positions of power. To take things even further, a large number of companies have used their influence to force or encourage change within local institutions and civic organizations.

Supporting The POC Community Where It Counts

Companies from all industries such as fashion, technology, beauty, and more have committed their wallets to the cause. These funds have gone to help raise awareness about racism and its effects in addition to helping communities that have a high population of POC. Not to be overlooked are the billions of dollars corporate America has poured into funds that are dedicated to increasing diversity in the workplace and also ending police brutality. In fact, by the middle of 2020, there were close to 2 billion dollars pledged by operations to help and address racial inequity as a whole. One of the most notable contributions is by Google. As the world’s largest and most used search engine, they are in a unique position to effect real change in the USA. They provided $25 million dollars worth of Google Ad Grants to groups and organizations that are fighting racial injustice and working towards racial equality. The importance of these grants is that they allowed groups that may not have been able to afford prime placement to disperse critical information to the public.

Companies Fighting Back Against Racial Inequality

While not everyone has joined the fight, there are plenty of companies both large and small that are supporting the fight against racial inequality. PayPal has pledged $530 million to help support businesses owned by black people and other minorities. Google has made a point of increasing the number of blacks and other POC represented in the C-Suite. Bank of America has pledged $1 billion to help with racial inequality caused by the pandemic. PepsiCo used $400 million to create an imitative that deals with racial inequality in business relationships and hiring decisions. Amazon has distributed 10 million dollars to a dozen organizations fighting racial inequality.

More than money is needed to help root out and cure racial injustice. Corporations have also issued statements and promise to address internal issues that cover a lack of diversity and racially charged business practices. Diversifying the leadership is one of the main ways corporations have stated they will start remedying racial inequality. A diverse power structure will better place companies in a position to not only identify bias but to mitigate it more effectively. At the retail level, many popular chain stores have made a commitment to remove theft deterrent casing from black products which have long been seen as symbolic segregation in the POC community. This year has already seen major rebranding of many products that were racially charged or otherwise formed on antiquated ideas that supported racist stereotypes.

Is It Enough To Make A Difference?

Race has been a problem in the country since well before its formal creation. As long as it has taken for the country to be formed, you can expect it to take just as long for the population to reach some semblance of equality. Slavery was abolished more than a century ago, but segregation was abolished less than 60 years ago. Racial discrimination has been a problem ever since, but with time, education, and a concentrated effort, the population can start to put real changes into effect. While the monetary pledges and even the changes to the corporate structure may never be enough, it is a great start to help the nation start to heal. True racial equality will happen when people stop viewing those around them as different, but rather as fellow human beings. Until then, changes in the corporate field will help fuel changes from the top down.  

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Image Sources:

  1. https://ssir.org/articles/entry/five_practices_for_developing_and_staying_accountable_to_racial_equity_goals
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/dec/28/tech-platforms-vowed-to-address-racial-equity-how-have-they-fared
  3. https://www.guidinggolden.com/striving-for-racial-equity
  4. https://www.brookings.edu/essay/from-commitments-to-action-how-ceos-can-advance-racial-equity-in-their-regional-economies/
  5. https://about.google/commitments/racialequity/
  6. https://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/16377-commitment-to-racial-equality-requires-consistent-effort