By Sarah Massey, Director of Communications
When I think about all those who died before they were able to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall riots, I tear up. When I was a teenager growing up next to New York City in the 1980’s, the AIDS epidemic was literally killing the West Village community. I remember it well: the homophobes, the government inaction, the devastating loss. It was terrifying and profoundly sad. Those days shaped my views of the world and created my desire to help where I am able. And, I’m also LGBTQ.
If you would have told me then that I would eventually be viewed as a leader in the LGTBQ movement and be invited to celebrate Stonewall 50 at the Stonewall Inn with my closest friends, I would not have believed it. I have come far and so has the movement. We have made huge progress with AIDS / HIV, popular media spotlight LGBTQ stories in positive frames, and, of course, there is marriage. We may have another 50 years of work ahead; and, as such, taking time to both honor our past and to celebrate helps to create the resiliency needed to change the world.
This month, I am celebrating Pride with my best friend, who also happens to be a famous LGBTQ artist, Lisa Marie Thalhammer. Lisa Marie was selected by Stoli Vodka as their Pride celebration artist. For the international brand, she created a mini-mural for their bottles called the Spirit of Stonewall that honors the founding of our movement with love. In addition, she has chosen to gift the National LGBTQ Task Force with a portion of her commission. It’s amazing. She supports the Task Force’s vision of equity as the cornerstone of liberation. Thank you, Lisa Marie.
It’s my sincere wish that our younger generation, AKA the baby queers, see Lisa Maire and me and think: I can do that. I can be an artist. I can be an activist, an advocate. I can come to Creating Change Conference to teach and learn. I can use my position and vision to benefit others. I want to be inspiring, and I’m grateful for all the opportunities I have to do just that.