ODN Item of the Week: The GOHI Collection

It’s June and that means Pride Month, a time when we can celebrate LGBTQ+ accomplishments and culture, and honor the memory of those who have fought for equality in years past.

Gay Pride celebrations began to be held regularly in June to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising, an event prompted by a police raid of the Stonewall Inn in New York City on the night of June 28, 1969. The Inn had been raided by police before, but this night the customers resisted the violation of their human rights, and as a result, chaos ensued. Outside the Inn, a crowd of citizens angry at the continued mistreatment by law enforcement gathered, and in a short time the police were outnumbered and defeated. The riots lasted for six days, and were a turning point for gay rights in America and abroad. With confidence in the movement swelling, all manner of rights and equality activist groups were formed around the country – some who continue the fight today. In June of 1970, commemorative Gay Pride marches were held in Greenwich Village, Chicago, and Los Angeles – thus starting the tradition we know today as Gay Pride.

Columbus’ first Pride Parade was held in 1981, and was a small gathering. Today this crowd has swelled to thousands celebrating in the streets all weekend long, with two main organizations leading the festivities – Columbus Community Pride, and Stonewall Columbus. Of course, Columbus is not alone in their support and celebration of LGBTQ+ culture – maybe the best part of Pride is the joy infused through our whole state in all the many celebrations that we hold.

Rainbow banners at Ohio Statehouse, ca. 1995
Courtesy Ohio History Connection

Any national, state, or local activist movement creates images, videos, pamphlets and newsletters over time, along with more ephemeral works that communicate their work and beliefs. How lucky for us that Ohio History Connection and Outlook Media have collaborated to create and maintain the The Gay Ohio History Initiative, a program to document and archive the history of LGBTQ+ events and persons in Ohio. You can see hundreds of these items online right now through Ohio Memory, and more items from across the whole country at the Digital Public Library of America.

Parades can celebrate how far the LGBTQ+ community has come, but many in this community continue to face harassment and violence in their daily lives, both from local police and other law enforcement agencies and the public at large. The GOHI Collection will be a crucial part in documenting the history and stories of future hard-won progress.