17.02.2021: To mark LGBT+ History Month Pride In Music’s David James Lennon draws the threads from the Stonewall Uprising to the hit new TV show, It’s A Sin, though music.
By David James Lennon
Andrea, an artist we’ve worked with on occasion, recently, and rather poignantly said “we have to underline the importance of those who have made queerness visible and slowly accepted by mainstream culture”, and that’s never been more true. Whilst the attitudes towards our community at large have come on leaps and bounds over the years, we can’t forget about the trials and tribulations of those before us.
LGBT+ History Month originated in the US in 1994 and aims to do exactly that. The annual event serves in part to educate us about the movements of the Gay Liberation Front, beginning with the Stonewall Uprising in 1969 through to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and has become the backbone of our annual Pride celebrations today.
For its role in modern day British politics, LGBT+ History Month first launched in the UK in 2005. It is celebrated every February coinciding with the anniversary of the abolition of ‘Section 28’ – a Thatcherite legislation, which from the mid-80s until 2003, banned the acceptance and promotion of LGBTQ+ issues within schools and local authorities. This led in turn to the closure of many youth support groups, networks and the teaching of same sex education nationwide. It had a gravely negative effect on the growth of a generation of creators that still resonates.
Music has always been intertwined with common LGBTQ+ issues and ideologies. The emergence of gender fluidity in the 80s saw increased exposure to the community, with artists like Culture Club, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Dead & Alive leading the way, taking centre-stage and defining popular culture. Today, as marginalised voices continue to break into mainstream music, it’s important for the wider industry to develop an understanding of allyship and what it means to be that valuable ally to the artists and music we all work to promote.
Pride in Music began as a small collective who worked towards two main goals; to provide a network for the community, artists and allies within British Music, and to provide resources for education and support around events such as these.
In 2019 we moved from providing initial monthly networking events that spanned the breadth of recordings, publishing, live and ancillary, to marching for the first time as the collective ‘LGBTQ+ face of British Music’ in both Brighton and London.
Quickly growing to a membership base of over 75, Pride in Music (PiM) branched into artist support, working with developing LGBTQ+ talent, alongside those working in the live sector, opening the Mighty Hoopla main stage with Ryan Ashley, Student Pride with Leo KalYan and the Trafalgar Square ‘Pride in London’ stage with Swimming Girls.
As we navigate into 2021 we’re looking to continue our work with developing talent; not just across queer artistry, but into the talent acquisition field, partnering with organisations and underprivileged youth charities to provide an entry route into the industry for the next generation who want to seek a career amongst us.
The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle
A thorough introduction to the history of the gay and lesbian civil rights movements, this book chronicles the early struggles of LGBTQ individuals from the 1950s to present day using a compilation of enlightening interviews with politicians, military officials and members of the community.
And The Band Played On
A blend of investigative reporting and vivid storytelling, this account follows the rise of the AIDS epidemic using the narratives of doctors who were on the frontlines of the outbreak, politicians and scientists who ignored it, and the real people who were affected by government’s negligence.
It’s A Sin
Penned by Russell T Davies , it takes an unflinching look at the 1980s HIV/AIDS crisis and its impact on a whole generation of gay men. The series begins in 1981, when AIDS is still just a rumoured, mystery illness affecting men in New York, and a rumour that some characters in the It’s A Sin cast are quick to dismiss, at least initially. (Available on All4)
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson
LGBT+ rights activist Victoria Cruz investigates the mysterious death of black gay rights activist and Stonewall veteran, Marsha P. Johnson, who was a central figure in the Stonewall riots. Her body was found in the Hudson river shortly after Gay Pride in 1992. Using archival interviews with Johnson, and new interviews with Johnson’s family, friends and fellow activists, Cruz unravels what happened to Marsha while celebrating her life and achievements. (Available on Netflix)
This is an Oscar-winning biographical film on the life of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California. Set in 1972, it stars Sean Penn and Josh Brolin and traces Harvey Milk’s career from his 40th birthday to his death. The film was met with near-universal acclaim, with Variety calling it “adroitly and tenderly observed,” “smartly handled,” and “most notable for the surprising and entirely winning performance by Sean Penn.” (Available on Netflix)
Based on a true story, the film depicts a group of lesbian and gay activists who raised money to help families affected by the British miners’ strike in 1984, at the outset of what would become the Lesbian and Gay Support the Miners campaign. The alliance was unlike any seen before although ultimately unsuccessful. (Available on YouTube).
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