LGBTQ Pride Month is celebrated in June of every year to commemorate the people and the events that have paved the way to freedom and equal rights for the LGBTQ community.

But why was the month of June chosen?

The Stonewall Riots
The Stonewall Riots took place one early morning on June 28th, 1969 in Greenwich Village, New York, where a series of violent demonstrations took place, protesting the frequent police raids of gay bars in the area. Police raids of bars and clubs was routine during the 1960s, but when raiding The Stonewall Inn that early summer morning in 1969 the situation quickly spiraled out of control.

The Stonewall Riots. Image: CBS News The Stonewall Riots. Image: CBS News

The tension between police and the gay community in Greenwich Village soon erupted into new protests. This lead to the protestors organizing into activist groups with the goal to create safe spaces where one could be open about their sexual orientation without fearing discrimination, violence or arrest.

Protesters. Image: youtube Protesters. Image: youtube

Within six months, two major activist groups and three newspapers had been created to advocate for LGBT rights. One year later, in June 1970, the first pride marches were arranged in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. A few years later, the gay rights organizations could be found all over the world. Today, millions upon millions of people walk in the parades all over the world to celebrate, commemorate and to continue the fight.

Turning to art
Homosexuality is as old as mankind, and art history is filled with openly, and closeted, LGBTQ people. Leonardo da Vinci is said to have been infatuated with the younger florentine artist Fioravante di Domenico. Michelangelo wrote loving, passionate poems to his said love, Tommaso de Cavalieri - whom he also based the powerful sculpture Victory on.

Michelangelos, 'Victory'. The man between Victory's legs is suppose to be Michelangelo himself. Image: tripimprover.som Michelangelos, 'Victory'. The man between Victory's legs is suppose to be Michelangelo himself. Image: tripimprover.som

But let us discuss some of the more contemporary profiles representing the LGBTQ community in the art world:

Keith Haring
Keith Haring (1958-1990) was an American pop and street artist who used his career to bring gay art and AIDS awareness to the masses. In the beginning of his career, between 1980-1985, he put his art on the back of advertising panels in the New York Subway. That way both the process of creation and the final work engaged people walking by.

Keith Haring, 1989. Image: Elle.fr Keith Haring, 1989. Image: Elle.fr

After this his fame began to grow. In 1988, when he was diagnosed with AIDS, he founded the Keith Haring Foundation to raise money and provide art to children’s programs and other organizations dedicated to the disease. During the two last years of his life, he wholeheartedly dedicated his time and his art to create awareness and understanding about AIDS.

Keith Haring, 'Silence Equlals Death'. Image: Barnebys Keith Haring, 'Silence Equlals Death'. Image: Barnebys

In 2008, two of his bright colored sculptures were added to the UNAIDS ‘Art for AIDS’ collection. Haring’s career was short but intense and it laid the foundation to him becoming the great gay icon he is today. With color, provocation and socially-conscious imagery he created an important part of gay symbolism.

Wilhelm von Gloeden
Wilhelm von Gloeden was born in 1856 into a German aristocratic family. In 1878 he moved to Sicily to treat his tuberculosis, where he decided to stay. He settled down i Taormina, where he started to photograph the young boys and men of the area, draped, or nude, posing as Greek figurines.

Wilhelm von Gloeden. Image: Lempertz Wilhelm von Gloeden. Image: Lempertz

Von Gloeden’s photos spread and was exhibited at museums all over the world with a very varied reception. When Wilhelm passed away in 1931, his life partner Pancrazio Buciuni, or Il Moro, inherited his art and belongings. Many viewed von Gloedens art as pornographic, and much of it was destroyed during a police raid at Il Moros home in 1936. Today only a third of Wilhelm von Gloeden’s work still exists.

Andy Warhol
No introduction is needed when talking about this iconic pop artist, filmmaker and graphic designer. Warhol was open about his homosexuality in interviews, conversations and publications. He created erotic photography and drawings of male nudes. Much of his work was influenced by, and did itself influence, the gay underground culture, raising questions and awareness of the complexity of sexuality and desire.

Read more about Andy Warhol here!

Andy Warhol, 'Self-Portrait'. Image: Barnebys Andy Warhol, 'Self-Portrait'. Image: Barnebys

Gran Fury
Created in 1988 in NYC, Gran Fury was an activist art collective with the purpose to educate the public, promote direct action and to expose governmental and civil negligence of the AIDS pandemic.

Their art targeted the streets rather than galleries and museums to reach more people. One of their most famous pieces is an image of three interracial couples; a straight, a gay and a lesbian, kissing. The photograph is paired with the caption ‘Kissing Doesn’t Kill: Greed and Indifference Do’.

Gran Fury. Image: tomkalin.com Gran Fury, 'Kissing doesn't kill', 1990. Image: tomkalin.com

Annie Leibovitz
Annie Leibovitz is one of the most prominent photographers of our time with a long and impressive resumé. Her photo of John Lennon wrapped around Yoko Ono has to be one of the best known photos.

She created a very personal and touching project photographing her life partner, the late essayist Susan Sontag during a fifteen year period. Leibovitz captured affectionate shots of Sontag at home, portraits of her during her struggle with cancer, and even some very controversial photos taken after Sontag’s death. The massive project is dubbed by many as Annie Leibovitz’s most iconic work ever.

Annie Leibovitz, 'Susan Sontag'. Image: Pinterest Annie Leibovitz, 'Susan Sontag'. Image: Pinterest

This is of course only a handful of the artists worth mentioning. We hope that by celebrating and commemorating these iconic creators we can can contribute to the fight against prejudice and discrimination towards LGBTQ, not only during the month of June, but everyday all year around.

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