Pride without Parades: The Importance of LGBTQ+ History in the Quarantine Era

Each June in Washington, D.C. and across the world, members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies celebrate Pride, a tradition that is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this June. But with parades cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the LGBTQ+ community and allies are faced with a novel problem: how do we celebrate Pride without parades?

Dr. Eric Cervini, award-winning historian and author of THE DEVIANT'S WAR: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America, will argue that Pride existed long before the annual marches began in June 1970. 

THE DEVIANT’S WAR begins in 1957 when a government astronomer named Frank Kameny received a summons to report immediately back to Washington. The Pentagon had reason to believe he was a homosexual. But for the first time, a homosexual fought back, building a movement to fight against the government’s gay purges. What unfolds is a story of America (and Washington) at a cultural and sexual crossroads; of shocking, byzantine public battles with Congress; of FBI informants; murder; betrayal; sex; love; and victory. Ultimately, Cervini tells a story of hope: if generations before were able to celebrate their own versions of Pride in the midst of the McCarthy Era's gay purges and through the AIDS crisis, we can certainly maintain--and improve upon--the tradition of equality and inclusion today.

For more information, or to contribute to any of the organizations referenced during the presentation, please see our list of resources below:

Featured Speaker:

Dr. Eric Cervini is an award-winning historian of LGBTQ+ politics and culture. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College and received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Cambridge, where he was a Gates Scholar. 

As an authority on 1960s gay activism, Cervini serves on the Board of Directors of the Harvard Gender and Sexuality Caucus and on the Board of Advisors of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of gay American history. His award-winning digital exhibitions have been featured in Harvard’s Rudenstine Gallery, and he has presented his research to audiences across America and the United Kingdom.

Panel Participants:

Sultan Shakir, Executive Director, SMYAL
Sultan is the Executive Director of SMYAL (Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders), an organization that works to support and empower lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in the Washington, DC, metro area. Sultan works to expand opportunities for young LGBTQ people through youth empowerment. Prior to joining SMYAL, Sultan worked at the Human Rights Campaign where he served as a director of the DC and Maryland marriage equality campaigns, and in his most recent role, led the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Project, working to make campuses safer and more inclusive of LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff.

Rikki Nathanson, Casa Ruby
Rikki is a pioneering activist for the rights of trans people across Africa. In September 2015, she formed Trans* Research, Education, Advocacy & Training (TREAT), which seeks to address the civil rights issues of the trans and gender diverse population of Zimbabwe. In 2016, she was instrumental in the formation of the Southern Africa Trans Forum, as well as being a member of the Africa Key Populations Expert Group to the UNDP, and the Every Woman Everywhere Coalition. Rikki is currently part of the management team at Casa Ruby. Casa Ruby is led by transgender women of color, and is the only bilingual and multicultural LGBTQ organization in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area, providing social services and programs catering to the most vulnerable LGBTQ people in the city and surrounding areas. Rikki also serves on the Board of Directors of OutRight Action International, a global LGBTQ advocacy organization.

Mark Seifert, Partner, Brunswick Group
Mark Seifert is a Partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Brunswick Group, where he co-leads the cybersecurity and privacy practice. Mark has extensive experience within the government based on more than a decade at the Federal Communications Commission, as well as his service in all three branches of the federal government. 

Drew Keller, Global Program Director, Open for Business
Drew Keller serves as Global Program Director for ‘Open for Business’, an international coalition making the business and economic case for LGBT inclusion.  He oversees the planning and implementation of all of Open For Business’s programs and manages the relationships with corporate and civil society partners. 

Moderator:

Wyatt Yankus, Associate, Brunswick Group
Wyatt Yankus is an Associate in the Washington, D.C. office, responsible for coordinating all U.S.-based analysis and production for Brunswick’s Geopolitical offer. He joined Brunswick following a nearly ten-year career as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy.