May 16 is National Honor Our LGBT Elders Day, a time to pay tribute to those who have paved the way for the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender) community to obtain and continue to seek important legislation and rights. We have numerous elders to thank for the strides made over the last several decades towards equality. As with other civil rights movements, their work has not been easy. Their struggles and victories are marked by courage, persistence, passion, and authenticity so, today, we celebrate them.
History of National Honor Our LGBT Elders Day
With Pride Month (June) right around the corner, today, National Honor Our LGBT Elders Day allows us to remember and recognize those who have come before us by opening doors and charting paths allowing us to fully celebrate the LGBT community.
Chase Brexton Health Care, the LGBT Health Resource Center, was founded out of the need for quality health care for the LGBT community. They officially designated May 16 to the National Day Registry as National Honor Our LGBT Elders Day. The goals of this national day are raising awareness about the ones who came before, recognizing their accomplishments and struggles, providing tools like healthcare services and counseling, patient resources, and providing adequate social services to those who helped propel the LGBT equality cause.
Among our elders are marchers, protestors, flag wavers, supporters, and cheerleaders who came together to embrace and encourage the movement. But there are also people from every walk of life, doctors, politicians, educators, business leaders, military who have served as mentors and true trailblazers, risking security and personal safety to propel the LGBT movement forward.
National Honor Our LGBT Elders Day timeline
Dedicated to LGBT “pioneers, trailblazers, and heroes”, the installation of the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor in New York City coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.
OutRight Action International is an American non-profit organization working around the world in support of the LGBT community and lasting change; this award is presented to human rights advocates supporting their mission.
In 2012, eighteen bronze memorials were dedicated along the streets of Chicago serving as an outdoor museum celebrating LGBT contributions to our national community.
The original gay pride rainbow flag flew for the first time at the Gay Freedom Day Parade in San Francisco.
National Honor Our LGBT Elders Day FAQs
Which U.S city has the largest LGBT population?
By sheer number, New York City is the largest with 272,493 people in the LGBT community; by percent of the population, San Francisco is largest at 15.4% of its total population.
What did the colors of the original gay pride rainbow flag represent?
The flag originally comprised eight stripes whose colors were assigned specific meaning: hot pink – sex; red – life; orange – healing; yellow – sunlight; green – nature; turquoise – magic/art; indigo – serenity; violet – spirit.
When is National Honor our LGBT Elders Day?
How to Observe National Honor Our LGBT Elders Day
The history of civil rights activism as it relates to sexual orientation is not as widely discussed as the movement for gender and race equality. Today is the perfect day to research the pioneers of this movement and their incredible stories of adversity and sacrifice paving the way for legislative change and social awareness.
Invite someone to share their story
Ask someone in your circle of friends to share their personal story of living as an LGBT individual. Ask about the challenges they have faced, who has served as their mentors or been pivotal on their life journey, and how you can support the continued fight for equality.
Visit a memorial
Memorials honoring the LGBT community continue to pop up across the country and around the world. Take a few minutes to find events in your area and join others in learning about and honoring our LGBT elders.
5 Pioneers For The LGBT Community
A gay artist born in 1951, Baker taught himself to sew after his honorable discharge from the US Army. He created the original 8 striped rainbow flag as a symbol of pride for the gay community.
Margarethe "Grethe" Cammermeyer
Born in Norway in 1942, Cammermeyer became a US citizen in 1961 and served as a colonel in the Washington National Guard. Her story was portrayed by Glenn Close in the 1995 movie, Serving in Silence.
Jean Arden Eversmeyer
Born in 1931 and known as “Arden”, Eversmeyer founded two organizations, Lesbians Over Age Fifty (LOAF) and the Old Lesbian Oral History Project (OLOHP), giving older lesbians access to community resources and ensuring their unique life stories are recorded and celebrated.
Frank Kameny is considered one of the most notable figures in the American gay rights movement. His efforts led to the removal of homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
John Paul Hudson
A principal organizer of the first gay pride march in New York City one year after the Stonewall riots, Hudson served as the march’s first Grand Marshall.
Why National Honor Our LGBT Elders Day is Important
We love to say “Thanks”
Showing appreciation for people who have walked before us through very difficult circumstances marks the purpose of this day and the adoration of pioneers feels good from all sides.
We respect our elders
Asking others about their life experiences shows respect, honor, and empathy. Civil rights movements wouldn’t be necessary if we already felt empathy for all humans. Getting to know someone different from you paves the way to empathy so, go ahead, ask and get to know.
We can give back to those who gave to us
Studies have shown older LGBT Americans not only have fewer people in their support network compared to their heterosexual counterparts, they have even “gone back into the closet” in later life to avoid additional isolation and discrimination. Show your support of our LGBT elders; volunteer to help them with day-to-day activities and include them in your social circle.
National Honor Our LGBT Elders Day dates