Every October our community has a chance to look back, reflect on, and pay homage to the many brave LGBTQIA+ pioneers and historical events that have paved the way for the rights and privileges we enjoy today as queer people. It’s also a chance for younger folks to open their ears and learn about the stories and hardships that prior generations of queer people had to endure.
By now, most queer folks are hopefully familiar with key moments and figures in LGBTQIA+ history; like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera and their role in the Stonewall riots. Or Harvey Milk as one of the first ‘out’ politicians in America. There’s also Larry Kramer, who help found “Act Up” in the 1980’s – a grassroots organization that worked, and continues to work, to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Of course, then there is Lavern Cox, who continues to break barriers and was the first transgender person in history to be nominated for an Emmy.
These pioneers and moments, among many others and at all levels make up the collective fabric of LGBTQIA+ history. As important as these stories are, they aren’t the only stories that need to be told. Virtually every queer person has a story to tell which is why for this LGBTQIA+ History Month, we sat down with members of the Center’s THRIVE program – which serves LGBTQIA+ seniors through free social programming.
In celebration of LGBTQIA+ History month we asked THRIVE to answer one of three questions;
- What is a piece of LGBTQIA+ History that every queer person should know?
- What advice would you have for any young or newly out queer person?
- Tell your personal story.
THRIVE Members were able to answer these questions in various ways which included; painting a memory, journaling, or just simply having a conversation. These were their responses.
ADVICE TO YOUNGER QUEER GENERATIONS
“Come out and try to be honest with yourself. you. You may encourage others to come out. You also never know who you might enlighten because in the end most of us have more in common than we think.”
“I don’t think a lot of the younger queer generation realizes how fragile our rights still are. We are still fighting and they need to continue this fight.”
“Remember, religion is a human institution – so if it hurts or rejects you – you can still be spiritual since it is a direct communication with your Source/God/Higher Power. You can create your own positive image of your higher power such as the ocean, nature, or sunrise, rather than how religion focuses on God mostly being male.”
“I was in the military when you were not allowed to be out if you were gay and I was under investigation for 6 months for attending a same-sex wedding. I was questioned about my sexuality and ultimately discharged honorably. It was not a pretty time to be in the military if you were gay. All that to say, don’t take your rights for granted because society and culture can change. “
“One moment that stands out to be in terms of LGBTQIA+ history is when the American Psychiatric Association officially declared that being gay was no longer considered a mental illness. Prior to that so many people including myself believed that and believed what they said because they were the experts and to finally hear them recognize that we are not mentally ill was kind of a freeing moment. All of the sudden it was ok for me to be myself and I wouldn’t be judged as sick.”
“I was an intensive care nurse in the 1980s. There were lots of very sick HIV/AIDS patients that were on ventilators and it was a scary time even for nurses. We didn’t know as much about it then. It took me a long time to even go get tested because I was scared to find out. Eventually I just bit the bullet and made an appointment at Nelson-Tebedo Clinic”
“AIDS to me is what has changed the world. There were so many things that came out of the AIDS crisis that have shaped the world today.
“I had so many friends that died during AIDS. I remember holding my best friend in my arms as he died. I remember the Dallas Gay Alliance and the Resource Center helping many of my friends.”