A number of years ago, I was invited to mount a photo exhibit in Zagreb, Croatia.
“Vital Signs” was a collection of photographs that chronicled several years in the LGBT Movement in the United States. The show’s narrative arc began with images of quilts from the AIDS Memorial Quilt displayed on the National Mall in Washington, DC during July 2012, and ended with images of New York City’s Pride Parade of 2013, the victory “lap” following the U.S. Supreme Court’s findings on June 26 that both California’s Proposition 8 and Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) were unconstitutional.
The final image in the show was of a plaque commemorating the Stonewall Inn, a bar in New York City frequented by gays, which was the site of riots following a raid there by police the night of June 28, 1969.
After Stonewall, the gay rights movement came “out of the closet and into the streets” and into the public consciousness where it has remained since.
The first Pride Parade was held in New York City on Sunday, June 28, 1970, one year after the riot. More than 45 years after Stonewall, Pride events are now held nationwide in cities large and small, in red states and in blue states, from San Francisco to Omaha and New York to Sioux Falls.
Every June, Arlington Public Library (APL) celebrates Pride, to honor LGBTQIA+ Americans and their allies who have fought for and continue to fight for the right to be treated fairly, to be granted equal protection under the law and afforded the inalienable right to be happy.
Gay rights are human rights, and libraries have a unique role in supporting the LGBTQIA+ community: through our safe spaces where we foster inclusion, our collections which reflect diverse points of view, and our programs that educate and celebrate the differences among us that make Arlington a thriving community.
More than a year ago, we signaled our embrace of inclusion with the addition of rainbow welcome signs posted on the entrances to each of our buildings.
And last year we added a banner at Central Library acknowledging that June is Pride month at APL.
And this year, for the first time, we joined Arlington County Government and are proudly flying the Pride Flag at Central Library.
June is Pride month, but in reality, every month is Pride month at APL.
For we are always:
Open to accepting others for who they are
Open to embracing diverse points of view
Open to protecting and nurturing those who are most vulnerable
Open to fulfilling hopes and dreams
Open to making Arlington the best it can be.
Our commitment to you.