As June rolls around, here at Artisans & Adventurers we are getting ready for one of our favourite events of the year - Pride! Pride in our hometown of sunny Margate is always particularly special for us. Pride is probably going to look a little different again this year, but we think it is really important to still celebrate and support our local LGBTQ+ communities and organisations. Pride, also known as ‘Gay Pride’ or ‘LGBT Pride’ has existed in it’s modern form since 1970, when a parade commemorating a year since the infamous Stonewall Riots took place in the USA, and later the first official UK Pride rally was held in London on 1 July 1972.
Something you may not know is the reason why we celebrate Pride throughout the month of June. Well, the reason is the aforementioned Stonewall riots. The Stonewall Riots, also known as the Stonewall Uprising, began in the early hours of 28 June 1969 when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in New York City. The raid sparked a riot among customers of the bar as well as neighbourhood residents as police roughly removed employees and patrons from the bar, leading to six days of protests and clashes with law enforcement. The Stonewall Riots is a pivotal moment in history that served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the USA and around the world. LGBTQ+ people have been at the heart of so many important historical movements and often go overlooked throughout history due to stigma and prejudice. That is why we wanted to take this time to celebrate LGBTQ+ icons through history and around the world.
Alan Turing was born in London in 1912 just two years before the First World War. He always had a keen passion for education, especially Mathematics which was a subject he excelled in. Though he was not very well known in his lifetime, Alan Turing is now world-renowned for the vital role he played in defeating Nazi Germany during WW2. Turing was a genius and cracked something called the Enigma code, which is thought to have shortened the war by several years, saving countless lives. During his lifetime, homosexuality was considered a crime in Britain and sadly in 1952 Alan Turing was convicted of “Gross Indecency” due to his relationship with another man. Turing faced an impossibly cruel choice of imprisonment, or probation on the condition he underwent chemical castration. Tragically, he died from suicide only two years later. In 2013, he was pardoned for this 'crime', and in 2017 the government agreed to officially pardon all men accused of 'homosexual crimes' like this, meaning they will no longer have a criminal record simply for being gay. This pardoning has come to be known as the 'Alan Turing Law'. In 2019 Turing was named the most iconic figure of the 20th Century and his face now appears on the £50 note.
Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, better known as Lady Phyll, is a British LGBTQ+ rights activist and anti-racism campaigner. She is the co-founder of UK Black Pride, which began in 2005 as a day trip to Southend-on-Sea in England. It now attracts nearly 8,000 people every year. Lady Phyll created the event to promote unity and co-operation among all LGBTQ+ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Latin American descent in the UK, as well as their friends and families. She is also the Executive Director of the charity Kaleidoscope Trust, which campaigns for the human rights of LGBTQ+ people in countries around the world where they are discriminated against. She is considered one of Britain's most prominent lesbian activists and consistently confronts the issue of racism in the LGBTQ+ community and the importance of intersectionality. Her pioneering activism work has greatly and continues to increase visibility and advocacy for Queer, Trans and Intersex People of Colour (QTIPOC) in the UK and beyond.
You can follow Lady Phyll on Instagram here.
Though you may not recognise him at a glance, you will certainly have seen his invention everywhere come Pride! The iconic Rainbow Flag, a universal symbol for LGBTQ+ people globally, was invented by Gilbert Baker in 1978. Gilbert grew up in a very conservative area in Kansas, and sadly suffered through severe homophobia during his time the US army. After completing his military service, Gilbert used his artistic talents in his political efforts, creating banners for anti-war and pro-gay marches and protests. Gilbert created the Rainbow Flag as a symbol to replace the pink triangles used by Nazis during WW2, creating something uplifting and affirming out of a symbol that represented hate. The popularity of the Rainbow Flag grew, and it was quickly adopted by LGBTQ+ people all over the world. Although it would have made him a lot of money, Gilbert refused to trademark it, saying it was a symbol for everyone and so it remains in the public domain. Sadly, Gilbert passed away in 2018 but his legacy lives on in the Gilbert Baker Foundation, which educates and inspires future generations about the LGBTQ+ flag.
Innanoshe Richard Akuson
Richard Akuson is a Nigerian lawyer, LGBTQ+ rights activist, writer and the founder of A Nasty Boy magazine. A Nasty Boy was founded in 2017 and is Nigeria's first LGBTQ+ magazine, although this ground-breaking publication was never marketed as such as being homosexual is punishable by law in Nigeria. All about redefining masculinity in Nigeria, the magazine became an overnight success and received international attention from news outlets such as BBC, CNN & more.Following this, he was named one of the 40 Most Powerful Nigerians under the age of 40 by YNaija. Sadly, Richard was outed and attacked in 2019, and had to flee Nigeria for his own safety, seeking asylum in the US. As of 2020, Vincent Desmond took over as the new editor and publisher of A Nasty Boy. He continues to speak openly and frankly about his treatment as a gay man in Nigeria, and serves as an inspirational figure for many LGBTQ+ young people facing prejudice and oppression in their countries.
Follow Richard on Instagram here.
Yasmin Finney is an 18-year-old actress and internet personality from Manchester in the UK. Yasmin always had dreams of becoming an actress, but feared she wouldn't be able to achieve those dreams as a Black British trans woman. She began documenting her life and experiences on TikTok, building up a following that now stands at over 650,000. One video in particular in which she shares her experience of growing up as a trans woman has been watched more than 12 million times. She appeared on GLAAD's second annual 20 Under 20 list in 2021 which celebrates 20 young LGBTQ+ individuals who are shaping the future of media and activism. This year, Yasmin Finney was cast in her breakout role of Elle in the Netflix hit show Heartstopper. She is very outspoken about her identity as a trans teenager, and it passionate about seeing more positive trans representation on screen. Yasmin said: “It really, really, really is such a rare story that we get a trans character that doesn’t delve into gender dysphoria, or depression, or bullying, but just the positive… Just everything that is natural about being trans is highlighted, and I’m just so happy to be that positive representation that we’ve needed for so many years."
Follow Yasmin on Instagram here.
We hope you enjoyed reading about some of these inspirational members of the LGBTQ+ community and how they had & continue to have a profound impact on society. There are so many more wonderful people we could have included on this list so we encourage you to get researching and learn more about the wonderfully rich history of Pride. Who are some of your favourite LGBTQ+ icons? Please let us know all about them! Happy Pride month everyone. You can read more about LGBTQ+ eco-activists you should follow here. You can also read an interview with lesbian parents Lucy & Stacey here.