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THE B-LIST: The first Pride was a riot — remembering LGBTQ heroes

June is LGBTQ Pride Month

"Gay Pride was not born of a need to celebrate being gay, but our right to exist without persecution. So instead of wondering why there isn’t a Straight Pride movement, be thankful you don’t need one." — Anonymous

Wikipedia defines Pride as: "The stance against discrimination and violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and non-conforming people to promote their self-affirmation, dignity and equal rights while increasing their visibility as a social group and building community."

It's a time for an oft-oppressed minority to be out, loud and proud. Pride can be as colorful and wild as Mardi Gras, or as solemn as a protest march.

There are parades and events scheduled in every state and several countries worldwide. Chicago's parade will be on Sunday the 24th, beginning at noon.

This year even marks the first Pride in Antartica — the "world's first LGBT friendly continent," according to the humanitarian organization Planting Peace — at the McMurdo Research Station this Saturday.

Pride is celebrated in June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, the 1969 clash between the LGBTQ community and NYC police during a raid at a popular gay bar, the Stonewall Inn.

Widely regarded as the start of the LGBTQ liberation movement, the Stonewall riots were lead primarily by women of color and sex workers, details often glossed over in the recent commercialization of gay rights.

Never forget: the first Pride was a direct response to policies of intolerance.

For this year's Pride, I'll be covering LGBTQ luminaries and entertainment, starting with heroes the history books tend to forget, like:

7. Baron Franz Nopcsa von Felső-Szilvás (1877-1933). Born into Austrian nobility, Nopcsa had three passions: paleontology, Albanian nationalism and his secretary and life-partner, Bajazid Elmaz Doda, who he spent 30 years with. Nopcsa was the first to suggest birds evolved from dinosaurs and that the "terrible lizards" could have been social, nurturing creatures – groundbreaking conclusions the scientific community was still arguing about when "Jurassic Park" hit theaters in 1993.

6. Audre Lorde (1934-1992). A poet, librarian and outspoken activist, Lorde shaped much of the feminist movement and continues to be a guide for intersectional activism. Rather than define herself as merely black, female or gay, Lorde argued that people contain multitudes and experience different levels of privilege and oppression.

5. Bayard Rustin (1912-1987). Most don't know that the man behind Martin Luther King Jr. and the organizer of the March on Washington was a gay black man. Rustin was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013 by President Obama for his contributions to civil rights; his partner, Walter Naegle, accepted the award on his behalf.

4. Julie d'Aubigny (1673-1707). In a mere 33 years, d'Aubigny — also known as La Maupin — lived a life worthy of the wildest adventure movie. Bisexual and gender-noncomforming, La Maupin married at 14 but often dressed as a man and wooed nuns while dueling (she was an expert swordswoman) and singing opera. She was so incredible that King Louis XIV — the Sun King himself — pardoned her twice. (La Maupin is an especial fave of mine; I highly recommend reading up on the full details of her crazy life.)

3. Dr. James Barry (1795-1865). An Irish surgeon who performed the first successful C-section in Africa, Barry lived his entire life as a man. After obtaining his medical degree at the University of Edinburgh, Barry enlisted and rose to the rank of Brigadier General in charge of military hospitals, the second highest medical office in the British Army. A colorful curmudgeon, Barry championed the poor and pushed for prison and military reform; in death, he's become a trans hero.

2. Barbara Gittings (1932-2007). A decade before Stonewall, Gittings was organizing the Daughters of Bilitis (the first lesbian political rights organization) and fighting to have homosexuality declassified as a mental pathology in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a fight she finally won in 1973. According to Matt Foreman, the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force: "What do we owe Barbara? Everything."

1. Marsha "Pay It No Mind" Johnson (1945-1992). She reportedly threw "the shot glass heard round the world" at Stonewall. She was a street queen, a sex worker, the co-founder of S.T.A.R. (Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries), a model for Andy Warhol, performed in the drag troupe Hot Peaches and championed the HIV+. Often known as "Mama Marsha," she constantly gave money to LGBTQ homeless youth, despite often being homeless herself. Distinctive with her flamboyant wigs, flower crowns and flowing gowns, Marsha was at the forefront of the LGBTQ movement in New York until her untimely (and suspicious) death during 1992's Pride. In her own words: "How many years does it take for people to see that we're all brothers and sisters in the human race? I mean, how many years does it take for people to see that? We're all in this rat race together."

• ANGIE BARRY is a page designer and columnist for The Times. To suggest future topics for The B-List, which covers pop culture, history and literature, contact her at abarry@shawmedia.com.

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