Intersex Day of Remembrance

The River of Pride Herculine Barbin

Intersex Day of Remembrance, also known as Intersex Solidarity Day, is an internationally observed civil awareness day designed to highlight issues faced by intersex people. It marks the birthday of Herculine Barbin, a French intersex person whose memoirs were later published by Michel Foucault in Herculine Barbin: Being the Recently Discovered Memoirs of a Nineteenth-century French Hermaphrodite.

While Intersex Awareness Day on October 26 appears to be celebrated more in English-speaking countries, particularly in North America, Intersex Day of Remembrance has been marked mostly in Europe. Some countries, such as Australia and South Africa, mark both events and the days between as “14 days of intersex”.

The event appears to have begun on November 8, 2005, as Intersex Solidarity Day, following an invitation issued by Joëlle-Circé Laramée, then Canadian spokeswoman for Organisation Intersex International. The Organisation invited organisations and groups and individuals to show solidarity by marking: the life of Herculine Barbin, or discussing intersex genital mutilation, “the violence of the binary sex and gender system” and/or “the sexism implicit within the binary construct of sex and gender”.

Intersex Awareness Day

The River of Pride Intersex Awareness

Intersex Awareness Day is an internationally observed civil awareness day designed to highlight the challenges faced by intersex people. The event marks the first public demonstration by intersex people in North America. On October 26, 1996, intersex activists from Intersex Society of North America (carrying the sign “Hermaphrodites With Attitude”) and allies from Transexual Menace demonstrated in Boston, outside the venue where the American Academy of Pediatrics was holding its annual conference. Intersex Awareness Day is an international day of grass-roots action to end shame, secrecy and unwanted genital cosmetic surgeries on intersex children.

First Nationwide Bisexual Gathering

The River of Pride First Bisexual Nationwide Gathering

A group of 75 bisexuals marched in the 1987 March On Washington For Gay and Lesbian Rights, which was the first nationwide bisexual gathering. The article “The Bisexual Movement: Are We Visible Yet?“, by Lani Ka’ahumanu, appeared in the official Civil Disobedience Handbook for the March. It was the first article about bisexuals and the emerging bisexual movement to be published in a national lesbian or gay publication.

Asexuality Awareness Week

The River of Pride Asexuality Awareness Week

Asexual Awareness Week is an international campaign that seeks to educate about asexual, aromantic, demisexual, and grey-asexual experiences and to create materials that are accessible to our community and our allies around the world.

Spirit Day

The River of Pride Spirit Day

In early October 2010, Canadian teenager Brittany McMillan promulgated the observance of a new commemoration called Spirit Day, the first observance of which took place on October 20, 2010; it now however takes place on October 17. On this day people wear the color purple to show support for LGBT youth who are victims of bullying. Promoted by GLAAD, many Hollywood celebrities wore purple on this day to show their support of this cause, and many websites added a prominent purple shade to their design. The name Spirit Day comes from the purple stripe of the Rainbow flag, whose creator Gilbert Baker defined it as “representing ‘spirit’”. The observance was inaugurated in response to a rash of widely publicized bullying-related suicides of gay school students in 2010, including that of Tyler Clementi. More than 1.6 million Facebook users signed up for the event globally.

Matthew Shepard

The River of Pride Matthew Shepard

Matthew Shepard was taken from this world to soon. His journey will never be forgotten. On the date of his passing we honer him and others who have been taken from us.

Matthew Wayne Shepard (December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998) was an American student at the University of Wyoming who was beaten, tortured, and left to die near Laramie on the night of October 6, 1998. He was taken by rescuers to Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, where he died six days later from severe head injuries.

Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson were arrested shortly after the attack and charged with first-degree murder following Shepard’s death. Significant media coverage was given to the killing and to what role Shepard’s sexual orientation played as a motive in the commission of the crime. The prosecutor argued that McKinney’s murder of Shepard was premeditated and driven by greed. McKinney’s defense counsel countered that he had intended only to rob Shepard but had killed him in a rage when Shepard made a sexual advance toward him. McKinney’s girlfriend told police that he had been motivated by anti-gay sentiment but later recanted her statement, saying that she had lied because she thought it would help him. Both McKinney and Henderson were convicted of the murder, and each received two consecutive life sentences.

Shepard’s murder brought national and international attention to hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels. In October 2009, the United States Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (commonly the “Matthew Shepard Act” or “Shepard/Byrd Act” for short), and on October 28, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the legislation into law. Following her son’s murder, Judy Shepard became a prominent LGBT rights activist and established the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Shepard’s death inspired films, novels, plays, songs, and other works.

National Coming Out Day

The River of Pride National Coming Out Day

National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is an internationally observed civil awareness day celebrating individuals who publicly identify as a gender or sexual minority. The day is observed annually by members of the LGBT community and allies on October 11. NCOD was founded in 1988 by Robert Eichberg, a psychologist from New Mexico and founder of the personal growth workshop, The Experience, and Jean O’Leary, an openly gay political leader from Los Angeles and then head of the National Gay Rights Advocates. The date of October 11 was chosen because it was the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.