June is Lesbian and Gay Pride Month
Gay pride or LGBT pride refers to a world wide movement and philosophy asserting that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals should be proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Gay pride advocates work for equal “rights and benefits” for LGBT people.
The movement has three main premises: that people should be proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity, that sexual diversity is a gift, and that sexual orientation and gender identity are inherent and cannot be intentionally altered.
In June of 2000, Bill Clinton deemed the month of June, “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.” The month was chosen to remember a riot in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan that is thought to be the beginning of the gay liberation movement in the United States.
June is now the month of acceptance and the month to welcome diversity in communities regardless of sexual orientation. Gay and lesbian groups celebrate this special time with pride parades, picnics, parties, memorials for those lost from HIV and AIDS, and other group gathering events that attract thousands upon thousands of individuals. This month is meant to recognize the impact Gay, Lesbian and Transgender individuals have had on the world.
The Invisibility of Lesbians in American History
To Believe in Women, by Lillian Faderman, is a landmark book about lesbian history in the late nineteenth and twentieth century. Unfortunately it is no longer available from our distributors, but it is offered through Amazon.
To address the issue of the invisibility of lesbians in history books, we quote an excerpt fromLiving with History/Making Social Change, by Gerda Lerner, historian, author, and pioneer in the field of women’s history:
Researchers in women’s history often have to depend on autobiographical writing – diaries, letters, memoirs, and fiction – to piece together the life stories of women of the past. . . Self-descriptive narratives of women abound in omission and disguises. . . .A subset of autobiographies and biographies concerns women who had special friendships with other women prior to the period when lesbian relationships were defined. Carroll Smith-Rosenberg’s essay, “The Female World of Love and Ritual: Relations between Women in Nineteenth Century America,” had long defined the discourse and also limited it (footnote omitted). Smith-Rosenberg had argued that single- sex friendships among women were accepted by society in the nineteenth century and were not considered marks of deviance. Were modern historians justified in defining such friendships as lesbian relationships? Were they reading modern interpretations into the past record? The subject was mostly discussed and written about by lesbian historians, while heterosexual historians, coming upon ample evidence of such special friendships, gingerly danced around them. Among the many prominent nineteenth-women who had lifelong stable relationships with other women, which involved shared home-making, shared finances, and often shared organizational responsibilities, were Jane Addams, Frances Willard, and M. Carey Thomas. What kind of “evidence” did one need to define the relationship as lesbian? Were such relationships lesbian if one could not prove sexual aspects? Heterosexual authors often chose to ignore such relationships or to refer to them simply as “friendships,” allowing the reader to draw her/his own conclusions.
I urged historians to report honestly on what their sources told them about these relationships, without necessarily being able to report on how the participants or their contemporaries defined such relationships.
From Living with History/Making Social Change, by Gerda Lerner (2009) (pages 14-15). Available in our Web Store http://shop.nwhp.org/living-with-historymaking-social-change-p5181.aspx (establish link)