By Olivia Ruiz, Editor-in-Chief, Senior
Whether in the past or in the present, the media plays a tremendous role in how we perceive society. What we see is what we generally accept to be true; unfortunately, this power, in the hands of the media, can magnify racist, sexist, and homophobic control of our perceptions of the past and present. When most people think of the past, they think of it as white, Western, heterosexual, and cisgender (gender identity matches sex assigned at birth). For LGBTQ+ history month, as Editor in Chief of the Phoenix Flyer, I’d like to raise media awareness by proving that the LGBTQ+ community has always existed, despite what books, film, and TV may depict. These vintage photos, gathered from websites like HomoHistory.com, provide a glimpse into the past that is unusual, but these images are just as historically accurate as any other documentation about people and their relationships.
Some notable events and facts about LGBTQ+ history will be intermittently included throughout this gallery, sourced from a timeline compiled by GSAFE, an organization that promotes safe schools for LGBTQ+ youths in Wisconsin. A more detailed timeline can be found here.
1895 - “Angelina Weld Grimke, a young woman who would become a celebrated poet of the Harlem Renaissance, writes to Mamie Burrill, ‘If you only knew how my heart beats when I think of you. Your passionate lover, Angelina.’”
1907 - “A German paper supportive of homosexuals prints an anonymous ‘Letter from Boston,’ which reports: ‘Here, as in Germany, homosexuality extends throughout all classes, from the slums of the North End to the highly fashionable Back Bay.’“
The LGBTQ+ community has always existed, and it may have been even more prevalent due to families destroying evidence of LGBTQ+ relatives and, quite literally, erasing them from history. We’ve come a long way from homosexuality being an executable offense, but we still have a long way to go. When you think about history now, don’t assume that everyone was white, Western, heterosexual, and cisgender, because that couldn’t be further from the truth.
If you would like to learn more about LGTBQ+ history, I recommend this film: The Celluloid Closet, which discusses the history of the LGBTQ+ community in Hollywood.