In the Beginning, There was a March

imageOn Oct. 11, 1987, half a million people participated in the second March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.  It is often referred to as “The Great March” and involved protests in front of the Internal Revenue Services Court, along with the unveiling of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.  The demonstration results in the founding of a number of LGBT organizations, including the National Latino/a Gay & Lesbian Organization.  Rob Eichberg, founder of the personal growth workshop, The Experience, and Jean O’Leary, then head of National Gay Rights Advocates came up with the idea of a national day to celebrate coming out and chose the anniversary of that The Great March to mark it.  National Coming Out Day (NCOD) was born. Logo_ncod_lg

This Saturday marks the 26th Anniversary of National Coming Out Day.  NCOD serves as a reminder that one of our most basic tools is the power of coming out.  According to Human Rights Campaign, one out of every two Americans has someone close to them who is gay or lesbian, and for transgender people, that number is only one in ten.

Every person who speaks up changes more hearts and minds, creating new advocates for equality.  I’ve gathered some materials and resources to celebrate coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or as an ally.

1. Check out some of our favorite coming out books and movies, including:

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Boys Like Us: Gay Writers Tell Their Coming Out Stories
Testimonies by Karen Barber
Testimonies by Karen Barber

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. The Human Rights Campaign celebrates National Coming Out Day on this YouTube video.

3. Check out R U Coming Out, a site dedicated to inspire, support, and unite those who are living their lives either completely, or partially in the closet.  The main focus of the site is the stories: people from all over their world share their own personal accounts of Coming Out.  The purpose of this site is not to encourage people to Come Out before they are ready or to make them feel under any pressure to do things in a particular way; it is simply a source of first hand accounts from people who have already been through, and are still going through, the process themselves.

4. Check out coming out guides and other resources provided by the Human Rights Campaign.

5. If you’re a straight ally, check out Coming Out as a Straight Supporter.

6. And finally, check out some of the more creative ways to come out of the closet courtesy of BuzzFeed: 24 Awesomely Creative Way to Come Out of the Closet. and 41 Awesome Ways to Come Out to Your Friends and Family

DVD of the Week – So Called Equals (Pride Film Festival Collection)

Flag_of_Spain.svg“Pride is the excess of self-esteem that you have to summon daily to deal with the amount of threats, stupidities, and B.S. being said about you so that your legs don’t shake and so that you can keep on walking and trying to change things.”–Pedro Zerolo, PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party)

Gay_flag.svgDocumentary filmmakers Olga Rodríguez and Cinta Jiménez Cárabe share the stories of gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals in Spain.  So Called Equals includes personal conversations that allow viewers to connect with the documentary participants.  Through candid interviews about what it means to be gay, lesbian, or transgender; single or in a committed relationship; or fighting against homophobia and discrimination, viewers are given new perspectives on the evolution of human rights in Spain.  Historic events such as Gay Pride in the 1970s, the effect of “vagrancy” and “socially dangerous” laws, the AIDS crisis, and the passage of same-sex marriage legislation are also detailed.  This film is in Spanish with English subtitles.  So Called Equals is available in our Pride Film Festival Collection, which features films generously donated to the GLBT Library by the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.

Book of the Week – Gay Pride: A Celebration of All Things Gay & Lesbian

Rainbow Flag

It’s Pride month! A time when festivals, parades, and rainbow-themed events are happening in almost every city in the US.

But what do LGBTQIA* individuals have to be proud about? You mean besides the fact that they embraced their identity despite the current social climate and the possibility of discrimination? Well you might want to take a look at Gay Pride: A Celebration of All Things Gay & Lesbian, then.

Gay Pride Book Cover

From the ancient Greeks to San Francisco, from Alan Turing to the LGBT ally next door, this book sings the praises of the queer pioneers, past and present, who have made the world a braver, bolder, and better place–for everyone!

History in the Making

 

LGBT History Month 2012

As LGBT history month draws to a close, we are reminded of those who pioneered the way for the freedoms we enjoy today, and that there is still much progress to be made. Equality Forum compiles a list of notable LGBT historical figures each year, and what is most remarkable about most of these individuals is not that they organized millions of people behind a cause or changed policies and laws single-handedly; what is remarkable about these individuals is that they were willing to stand out–and speak out–during times where to be anything but hetero-normative was a sentence for a lifetime as a societal outcast.

Pierre SeelPierre Seel (1923-2005) was imprisoned and tortured in a concentration camp during World War II because he was gay. After escaping from conscripted service in the German army and surrendering to the Allies, his imprisonment was not compensated or acknowledged by the French government. Neither were any of the others deported for their sexual orientation. In 1982, after having closeted himself for 37 years, he wrote an article for a French gay magazine in response to a prominent bishop’s anti-gay remarks. His memoir, “I, Pierre Seel, Deported Homosexual” was published in 1994. And in 2003, he was finally recognized as a victim of the Holocaust.

Christine JorgensenChristine Jorgensen (1926-1989) was one of the first people to use hormone therapy to supplement her gender reassignment therapy. She was catapulted to fame when the New York Daily News intercepted a letter to her parents about her transformation and ran a story titled “Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Beauty.” She relocated to New York to speak out in support of transsexual and transgender people; Jorgensen moved into music and film, and toured the US speaking at colleges and universities about her story.

 

 

Tom Waddell's memoir, Gay OlympianTom Waddell (1937-1987) organized the Gay Games–an athletic event modeled on the Olympics that still takes place every 4 years, the most recent having been held in 2010. Waddell was part of the civil rights demonstrations in Alabama in the early 1960’s, and joined the army in 1966. He competed in the Olympics in 1968, after which he was a fellow at Stanford University. He came out to friends and family in the 1970’s, and inspired by a gay bowling league, he decided to create a unique sporting event where LGBT athletes could compete openly. Waddell lived to see the games become a great success, and died of AIDS-related complications in 1987.

Gloria AnzalduaGloria Anzaldua (1942-2004) “helped build a multicultural feminist movement and called for people of different races to move forward together.”  After teaching several courses in creative writing and Chicana studies & earning her master’s degree, she co-edited one of the most cited books in the history of feminist studies: This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. She refused to write in only one language, and her writings contain two variations of English & six of Spanish, and all manner of in-betweens. She died while working on her doctorate, and was posthumously awarded a PhD by the University of California, Santa Cruz for her scholarly contributions.

Although it is no longer a danger to speak out publicly in support of the LGBT community in most of Western society, many people still suffer harassment and exclusion in silence. October is also anti-bullying month. Bullying can be as simple as one child tormenting another, or an institutionalized hostility against hundreds of thousands of people. We have seen great steps taken in our society within our lifetimes, yet without continual individual effort, we cannot move forward. I am reminded of the children’s book “Horton Hears a Who,” where no-one can hear the voices of the tiny people living on a dandelion puff except an elephant with exceptional hearing. But when they combine their voices, they are able to make themselves heard by everyone in the larger world: “We are here!” So we need to remember: we may not think our voice counts or has any influence on our surroundings, but if we all speak up, we will be heard.

 

For more information on LGBT historical and modern figures, check out http://www.lgbthistorymonth.com!

Celebrating the Rainbow

“There’s an old saying among flag makers: A true flag can never be designed, but is torn from the soul of a people.” ~ Gilbert Baker*

Rainbow Books Poster in Wells Library Lobby
Rainbow Books Poster in Wells Library Lobby

Through the end of May, the GLBT Library will be celebrating the Rainbow Flag with a colorful display in the Wells Library Lobby.

In 1978, Gilbert Baker hand-dyed and sewed fabric to create the first Rainbow Flag for that year’s Gay Freedom Day Parade (now known as San Francisco Pride). While his original eight colors have been reduced to six (the original flag included pink and turquoise, while indigo has been replaced with royal blue), the flag has become an enduring symbol of gay pride.

The striped flag has had something of a checkered history. The article “Rainbow Banners and Gay Politics” in the North American Vexillological** Association newsletter discusses some of the political controversy surrounding the inclusion of Rainbow Flag banners during the 1979 Gay Freedom Day Parade (the same year that Harvey Milk, a friend of Baker, was murdered). To learn even more about flags and logos used by the LGBTQA community check out this Wikipedia article on LGBT symbols.

Baker discusses his creation in the video below, made by In the Life Media.

 

* Metro Weekly, 10/18/2007 http://metroweekly.com/feature/?ak=3031
** Vexillology = the study of flags http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vexillology