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Don't Miss: 'Rise Up!' at Washington, DC's Newseum

Wednesday Apr 10, 2019
"Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement"
"Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement"  (Source:Newseum)

It's an epic year for the LGBTQ community as 2019 commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Washington, DC's Newseum has gathered an astonishing array of historic artifacts, archival documents and other objects to assemble a must-see exhibit: "Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement."

The groundbreaking exhibit explores the modern LGBTQ rights movement, spearheaded by that fateful night in June 1969 when police raided Greenwich Village's Stonewall Inn. The protests following the raid are considered to be the catalyst that inspired the modern gay liberation movement. The exhibit takes a deep dive into the people and events leading up to Stonewall and subsequent chapters in the evolution of queer culture, including fighting for the right to work and serve in the military, the AIDS epidemic, faith and the right to marry and the current movement towards full acceptance for the transgender community.

"Rise Up" also examines popular culture's role in influencing and reflecting attitudes about the LGBTQ community through film, television, sports and music, and explores how the gay rights movement harnessed the power of public protest and demonstration to change laws and shatter stereotypes.

The exhibit explores themes both chronologically and thematically, engaging visitors to make connections between early activists such as The Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis and today's influencers.


"Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement"  (Source:Newseum)

Entering the main exhibit space, visitors can begin to piece together the multi-faceted influences that have shaped today's LGBTQ movement, including rare items such as Martina Navratilova's tennis racket, a script from the 1993 film "Philadelphia," and a powerful video featuring some of today's out-and-proud celebrities such as Cynthia Nixon, George Takei and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

There are also haunting reminders of the violence against LGBTQ people and the sacrifices made by our most impactful leaders, such as a bullet-punctured envelope found in the suit jacket of San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk the day he was assassinated in San Francisco's City Hall. Milk was one of the first openly gay people elected to political office in the United States.

Can't-miss items that embody capstone moments in the ongoing fight for equality include a portion of the AIDS quilt — not from the 1980s — but, rather, honoring a transgender woman who died in 2016, reminding us that the epidemic is far from over. James Obergefell, who became the face of the historic ruling that made same-sex marriage legal nationwide after the death of his husband John Arthur, was the first to lend items to the exhibition, including the jacket he wore on their wedding day as well as their wedding bands, which have been fused together to symbolize their union.

"It was an emotional highpoint," says the Newseum's Vice President of Exhibits and Content Patty Rhule of that first acquisition. "We thought, wow. When you think about the exhibit, it's all about who you love. Look at how far we've come in 50 years."


"Rise Up" firmly embraces the Newseum's mission to increase public understanding of the importance of a free press and the First Amendment. While the exhibit overflows with visual representations, the acknowledgment and commemoration of the written word are of equal importance. On display is an early issue of ONE MAGAZINE with the headline "Homosexual Marriage?"

The publication distributed its inaugural issue in 1953 and was the first of its kind specifically for LGBTQ readers. Packaged in unmarked envelopes to pass through the U.S. Post Office without suspicion, this pre-Stonewall periodical embodies the power of the press — an important throughline for "Rise Up" as well as the Newseum's other exhibits.

This year's Capital Pride Celebration takes place May 31 through June 9. While revelers from around the country will descend upon DC to partake in parties and parades, "Rise Up" is a must-see for a deeper appreciation and understanding of the LGBTQ rights movement. Be sure to watch the exhibit's accompanying film, "Into the Streets," a documentary exploring how the LGBTQ rights movement harnessed the power of public protest to change policy and shift culture.

Additional programming will be scheduled throughout the year. Visit Newseum's Events & Programs page for further information.

"Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement"
Through December 31, 2019
Newseum
555 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20001
www.newseum.org


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Spring 2019

This story is part of our special report titled "Spring 2019." Want to read more? Here's the full list.


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