5 min read 14.06.2021 Insights

Brenda Howard

Who She Was

An American bisexual right activist, sex positive feminist and polyamorist Brenda Howard is an important figure in the modern LGBT Rights movement and played a crucial role in the founding of Pride as we know it today. Born into a Jewish family and raised in New York Brenda gained an AAS degree in Nursing from The Borough of Manhattan Community College. During the late 1960s Brenda was active in the movements against the Vietnam war, while living in an urban commune with other anti war activists she also became involved in the feminist movement.

Why We Remember Her

Known as the “Mother of Pride” Brenda played an integral role in the coordination of the first LGBT Pride March in 1970 originated the idea of a week long celebration of events around the pride march, birthing traditions that are still held around the world every year in June. A militant activist, she campaigned for equal rights for gay, lesbian and bisexual people throughout her entire life, chairing the Gay Activists Alliance’s Speaker’s Bureau for 7 years in the post-stonewall era and actively partaking in numerous LGBT+ movements and charities. The Brenda Howard Memorial Award is awarded to individuals and organisations that have made an outstanding contribution to helping the LGBTQ+ community, recognises her as a positive and visible trail blazing role model and remembers her contribution to the entire LGBT community as her legacy.

Brenda Howard
Brenda Howard Protesting
“If someone asks you why LGBT Pride marches exist or why Gay Pride Month is June tell them a bisexual woman named Brenda Howard thought it should be.”

Marsha P. Johnson

Who She was

American Gay Liberation activist and self-identified drag queen Marsha P Johnson (born as Malcolm Micheals Jr) was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front and co-founded the radical activist group Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR). Known as the “Mayor of Christopher Street” for her presence in the streets of Greenwich Village in the 60s, Marsha was a popular figure in New York’s gay and art scene, modelling for Andy Warhol.

Why We Remember Her

An integral figure in the story of the Stonewall Uprising, she is said to have thrown a shot glass into a mirror at the burning bar screaming ‘I got my civil rights’ which “was the shot glass that was heard around the world”. In 1973, Marsha and Sylvia Rivera (co-founder of STAR and close friend to Marsha) were banned from participating in the Gay Pride Parade as drag queens, their response was to march defiantly ahead of the parade. Marsha worked to provide food, clothing, emotional support and sense of family to young drag queens, gender nonconformists and trans women. Campaigning for them to have the same recognition as gay, lesbian and bisexuals she funded this charity with money she made from sex work and devoted her life to equality for all. Later in the 80s she played a key role in street activism for aids with political group ACT UP. Netflix honoured her memory with a documentary published in 2017 “The Life and death of Marsha P Johnson” which investigates the suspicious circumstances of her death and the struggle for drag and trans recognition.

Marsha P Johnson
Marsha and Sylvia Rivera
“As long as my people don't have their rights across America, there's no reason for celebration.”