Last History Wednesday for 2020! This week, we’d like to highlight some recent LGBTQ+ history that happened in our own backyard.
On October 5-7, 2018, thousands of people gathered in downtown Staunton to celebrate Pride. Led by Chris Wood of LGBT Tech, a nonprofit that advocates for LGBTQ+ issues in tech policy, Staunton Pride was the city’s first public celebration of the LGBTQ+ community! (to the best of our knowledge - please correct us if we’re wrong!). The three day celebration helped lay the groundwork for other LGBTQ+ organizations to establish themselves in Staunton. That same year, the Shenandoah LGBTQ Center opened its doors - first in the Innovation Hub on N Augusta, before putting its roots down in the Masonic Building on Beverley Street. Both Staunton Pride and the Center still work today to support the Shenandoah Valley’s LGBTQ+ communities through education, resources, and events that celebrate what it means to be LGBTQ+ in the Valley.
As we close out Staunton Pride for the year, let’s remember that history is a process, not a series of static events. Before Stonewall, there was Compton’s Cafeteria, Cooper’s Donuts, and countless other riots, protests, and demonstrations. Before there was Staunton Pride and the Shenandoah LGBTQ Center, there were LGBTQ+ people living, loving, surviving, and thriving throughout Staunton and the Shenandoah Valley.
Change happens because people make it happen. Sometimes it happens all at once, like at Stonewall. But the buildup to those incredible moments takes years and months and days of consistent effort from people committed to making change happen.
Right now, we’re seeing change happen in Staunton and the Shenandoah Valley. Let’s keep pushing to make inequality history, and to make equality for all marginalized peoples our continual present.