We take a moment to celebrates the achievements of Harvey Milk, a gay rights activist who was assassinated in 1978.
Harvey Milk was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in a major city in the US, serving on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1977-1978. His life and political career embody the rise of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights movement.
While in office, Milk worked to pass a gay rights ordinance and defeat Proposition 6, commonly known as the Briggs Initiative, which would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools. Milk encouraged LGBT people to be visible in society and believed in achieving social equality.
Milk was assassinated in 1978 by Dan White, a former colleague on the Board of Supervisors whose politics often clashed with Milk’s. On October 11, 2009, Californian governor Arnold Schwarzenegger established Harvey Milk Day to be held as a significant observance on May 22, which is Milk’s birthday. Harvey Milk Day is marked as a special day of significance in schools across the state.
Pride month is fast approaching with many Pride celebrations being postponed or cancelled due to covid. We’d like you to share your favorite Pride Stories. Share your Pride photos and anything you’d like to about what Pride means to you!!
The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. They are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for gay and lesbian rights in the United States.
A Maine man will be responsible for a big part of Boston’s Pride Parade — 900 feet of it to be exact.
That’s the length of the “River of Pride” flag, sewn together by Bishop McKechnie of Augusta.
For more than 10 weeks, McKechnie has been busy sewing, eight hours a day, to get the flag ready for Saturday.
“It’s a labor of love, we’ll just say that,” McKechnie explained.
He first had the idea to make an extremely large flag 13 years ago when customers at Blackstone’s, a well-known Portland bar, asked if they could be on the bar’s pride parade float.
“The clientele would come in and ask to be on the float,” he said. “It dawned on me [to] come up with something that would make the parade longer.”
That’s how, with limited sewing experience and support from his husband, David Hopkins, McKechnie created his first River of Pride flag with a length of 700 feet.
“This was my solution for people who felt unseen or unheard,” he explained.
As McKechnie put it, for the first time, anyone who didn’t belong to an organization or group with a float in the Portland Pride Parade could now belong to a new open-door group with no bar to entry.
A few uses later, the giant rainbow banner became 900 feet long and was used over and over in the Portland Pride Parade until 2017.
After a one-year hiatus, a friend put McKechnie in contact with Boston Pride.
The Massachusetts group jumped at the opportunity to use the flag made of a special shiny silk fabric, which McKechnie says has the price tag of “a nice car,” altogether.
A 200-foot Unity Flag will also make its way to Boston.
The separate flag sewn by McKechnie is meant to include people who don’t feel represented by the rainbow, like individuals who are non-binary.
“Some may feel they’re such a small sect inside the rainbow,” said McKechnie. “I created a brand new flag for those people.”
The Unity Flag uses all different kinds of swatches sews into one flag and has a multi-colored infinity symbol at its center.
It also has room for new colors to be added by anyone who feels they need a color not in the flag to be represented.
Having one of his epic flags in the Boston Pride Parade has been a dream of Bishop’s since the inception of his project that Hopkins said resulted in at least one “intense” needle accident.
But McKechnie, the one who actually had a needle go through his thumb, has never held one of his flags in a parade before.
That will change on Saturday.
“I’ll be marching in Boston. It’ll be my first time picking up the flag,” said McKechnie, who eschewed any type of title like “artist” or “creator,” saying it distracts from the togetherness he’s trying to foster.
“The flag doesn’t get its way down the parade route,” he said. “You make that happen.”
To clarify a few details from this news story:
The first 125 feet was sewn by Bishop and friends in 2006 along with 2007 to 2008 the addition 775 feet was added. The next 750 feet was sewn by Bishop alone in 2019. The 10 weeks included the 750 feet of The River of Pride Flag and 200 feet of The Unity Pride Flag.
We’re days away from this year’s pride month of June. The calendar is full and the days to our first parade/march of the season is nearing.
Here’s a list of our scheduled events:
Boston Pride June 8th
This is our first event of the season with 900 feet of The River of Pride Flag and the highly anticipated debut of The Unity Pride Flag. The new flag is made up of 274 flags that is 200 feet long. We’re looking forward to seeing it unfurled for the first time!
Pride Portland! June 15th
We’re happy to say this will be The River of Pride Flag’s 12th time in the Portland ME pride parade. We’re honored to have been requested and looking forward to seeing familiar marchers carrying the flag again this year!
New York City Pride June 30th
June marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and the first time WorldPride is being hosted in the United States.
NYC Pride invites both flags to take part in the march. 1/4 mile of The River of Pride Flag will be participating along with The Unity Pride Flag.
Norwich Pride March is the People’s March – anyone who shares their values can join in. Last year 2018 they unveiled our 150 foot flag for the first time. It was spectacular to watch people carry it through the city streets, as you can see from this amazing photo by Roo Pitt.
Would you like to show your pride by marching in the largest Pride Marching in the country. The River of Pride Flag and The Unity Pride Flag have been invited to WorldPride held in New York City on June 30th for the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.
Whether it’ll be your 1st time marching or your 50th, it’ll be historical for us all.
The River of Pride was an inspired idea by one, believed in by a community. It was a labor of love of friends showing their pride, support and encouragement for those around them.
When you see The River of Pride, you’ll find hundreds of people Being Seen, Being Heard & Being Proud!! Just what you’d expect to find when a larger then life rainbow flag passes by.
You won’t find any company logos, support by or affiliate sponsors, not even who owns it. The River of Pride is about more than that. It came to life in hopes of showing support for everyone regardless of our differences.
You no longer have to watch from the sidelines wishing you where a part of just one of the many groups passing by. The flag was created for you and over the years grow to accommodate more and more people just like you.
In its presence, your excitement builds, you start looking for an opening, before you know it, you’re a part of the event and marching with the flag. You’re now being seen, being heard and able to share your pride.
The flag was made for you, to have this very liberating experience. So you could be a part of your own personal pride celebration.
New exhibit celebrating Stonewall anniversary is rich with LGBTQ history
The New York Public Library’s “Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50″ exhibit shows how the LGBTQ liberation movement was dreamed up, organized and deployed.
By Tim Fitzsimons
NEW YORK — Taken individually, the artifacts, photos and publications on display at the New York Public Library’s new exhibit, “Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50,” do not immediately appear linked.
The show, which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall uprising — the spark that ignited the modern-day gay rights movement — includes a 1955 issue of Physique Pictorial, a King Tut-themed invitation to a party at the famed Paradise Garage nightclub and personal photos of legendary lesbian activist Barbara Gittings.
But taken together, the exhibit shows how the power of the LGBTQ liberation movement was dreamed up, organized and deployed. It was a movement born in the streets of New York City, and “Love & Resistance” shows how a unique set of circumstances allowed for the formation of a true rainbow coalition to demand social justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people.
Jason Baumann, the exhibition’s curator, said, “The 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots is a unique opportunity to reflect on LGBTQ politics and culture.”
“The thing that I hope people take away from it is that they can be politically active themselves and make the world a better place and that they can change the world themselves,” Baumann said in an interview with NBC News. “These people weren’t professional activists. They were just concerned people who knew that our society was unjust. And so they made a difference.”
Organized into four sections — “Love,” “Resistance,” “In Print” and “Bars” — the exhibit takes us through the ways LGBTQ activists, particularly those in New York City, began to recognize themselves as a community and moved to expand their political power.
At first, gay bars were some of the only safe spaces where this fledgling community could meet to organize, even as these establishments were also regular sites of police raids and often operated by crime syndicates, as was the case at the Stonewall Inn 50 years ago.
Bars like Stonewall attracted gay men, drag queens, lesbians and others in the extended queer communities, and the exhibit shows how authorities tried to flush these sexual and gender minorities out of public life. LGBTQ people were prevented from living openly by laws banning cross dressing, serving alcohol to “known homosexuals” and sodomy — some of which remained on the books in the state until 1980.
And lest a visitor think Stonewall was the point at which life changed for LGBTQ people in New York, raids continued for years: The exhibit shows this with artifacts from the Snake Pit, where a 1970 New York Police Department raid ended with a gay man impaled on a fence.
The exhibit’s “In Print” section examines how these communities found one another in the pre-internet era, noting that “after Stonewall, there was an explosion of LGBTQ publications that reflected the new spirit of liberation.”
Original copies of magazines like The Ladder, RFD, Transvestia and Come Out! show how activists spread the word: “They were passed from hand to hand and distributed through small book shops and the mail,” according to the text boldly written on the exhibit’s wall. The distribution of LGBTQ magazines was a legal battle in and of itself, and one of the first wins in the struggle.
The show’s “Resistance” section examines how activism slowly morphed from “tightly orchestrated affairs with conservative dress codes” to a liberation movement modeled after those sweeping the world in the 1960s.
“LGBTQ political movements developed a range of demonstration tactics that were subsequently employed by AIDS activists in the 1980s and 1990s and continue to inform activist strategies today,” the exhibit text states.
“Probably the greatest impact of LGBTQ activism has been the transformation in relationships for people of all orientations,” reads the introduction to the “Love” section. “By challenging sodomy laws and barriers to marriage, LGBTQ activists expanded the legal and personal options for love in the culture at large.”
The exhibit even lifts the veil on aspects of the LGBTQ liberation movement that are still taboo in today’s society: “LGBTQ people questioned the full range of possibilities regarding love, sexuality, and friendship,” reads an inscription in the “Love” section. “They experimented with open relationships, polyamory, communal living, erotic friendships, and cruising, and they even fought for the right to legal marriage. They embraced the radical idea that sexual desire and love could be grounds for totally transforming society.”
Baumann, the exhibit curator, said the exhibit draws upon a tiny fraction of the 100+ LGBTQ collections held by the New York Public Library, which include the papers of Truman Capote, ACT UP New York’s records, Diana Davies’ photographs and 79 linear feet of documents donated by Gittings and another lesbian activist, Kay Tobin Lahusen. He also pointed to the NYC Trans Oral History Project as an area where visitors can dive deeper into digital-only archives.
“Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50” runs from Feb. 14 to July 14 at the New York Public Library in Manhattan. In addition to the exhibit at the main library in Midtown Manhattan, the New York Public Library plans Stonewall 50-themed programming at its 88 branches across Manhattan, Bronx and Staten Island.