“LGBT Pride Month”

LGBT Pride Month Spotlight: Ian McKellen

By | June 26, 2014

4638390550_b36de2fe93_oIan McKellen is regarded as one of the greatest British actors of his generation but in recent years he’s gained a great deal of attention for his social activism. McKellen was known to be gay by his fellow actors early in his career but didn’t come out publicly until 1988. After gaining worldwide popularity for his Oscar nominated turn in Gods and Monsters and roles in the Lord of the Rings and X-Men films, McKellen became a 60-something-superstar and suddenly had an enormous platform from which to voice his beliefs.

McKellen co-founded Stonewall, an LGBT rights charity based in the United Kingdom named after the Stonewall riots in New York in 1969. Stonewall has become the biggest gay equality organization in Europe. They work to lobby for LGBT rights and have succeeded in preventing the passing of oppressive laws and influencing measures for equality. In 1988, Stonewall was at the forefront of the fight against Section 28, a controversial addition to a British law that prevented local authorities from “promoting homosexuality”. The vague and harmful amendment stirred controversy in the United Kingdom and got many involved with the gay pride movement. While debating the issue on the radio, McKellen first publicly declared himself to be gay.

While Ian McKellen’s organized efforts for equality have been vast and successful, perhaps his most effective activism is simply being himself. He will often drop statements into interviews and appearances that serve to call attention to important LGBT issues without making a grand political gesture. His practice of ripping out hateful verses from hotel bibles is an often-shared anecdote and he once caused controversy by asking a for a gay bar recommendation from TV host in Singapore. Sir Ian McKellen’s immense talent and sharp wit have made him a pop culture icon, but his fearlessness and quest for equality make him a treasure to the LGBT community.

LGBT Pride Month Spotlight: Harvey Milk

By | June 16, 2014

Harvey_Milk_webHarvey Milk might be the most important figure in the modern LGBT movement. In fact, many point him as a catalyst for the formation of the LGBT community as we know it. Milk moved to San Francisco in the early 70s and there felt comfortable embracing his homosexuality and displaying his pride. He opened a small camera shop in the Castro District where he became a fixture of the community. People came to him with their problems and he did his best to help them. Soon enough he was known as the unofficial Mayor of Castro Street.

Milk’s passion for solving problems in his community drove him into politics. He waged several campaigns for office, losing each one but gaining more of a following and influence each time. Finally in 1977, Milk won the race for city supervisor. As one of the first openly gay elected officials, he immediately became a beacon of hope and inspiration for the LGBT community. Milk worked to promote equality and fairness for all groups. In a major victory, he helped shoot down an oppressive anti-gay proposition that would have forced the firing of gay and lesbian teachers in state schools. His eloquence and energy captured the attention of the nation and allowed him to kick off the LGBT movement as we know it.

On November 27, 1978, after only a year in office, Harvey Milk, along with San Francisco mayor George Moscone, was assassinated by colleague Dan White. His death was a tragic loss but he left behind a legacy that continues to spark the will of activists today. Named one of the most influential people of the 20th century by Time Magazine, Harvey Milk was a trailblazer for the LGBT community and an icon of the crusade for equality.

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LGBT Pride Month Spotlight: Cyndi Lauper

By | June 3, 2014

Cyndi Lauper’s music let her rise to fame, but today she may be more well known for her LGBT activism than for her songs.

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Photo by Cary Bass-Deschenes. Used under CC 2.0

Beloved by the LGBT community, Cyndi played pride concerts all through the 80s and 90s when it wasn’t as cool and trendy as it is today. Her countless equality efforts include the massive True Colors Tour benefiting the Human Rights Campaign, the Forty to None campaign that seeks to eliminate the staggering problem of homelessness among LGBT youths, and her Tony Award winning musical Kinky Boots, which addresses the acceptance of drag queens in society. She was even present at the White House when President Obama signed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law in 2009.

A true hero to the LGBT community, Cyndi Lauper is one of the most important and influential advocates for equality of the last 30 years.

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