This Pride Month, America250 recognizes the significant contributions and diverse identities of the LGBTQIA+ community. The activism and resilience of this community are fundamental characteristics of the United States. Approximately 20 million people in the United States identify as LGBTQIA+, reflecting the many backgrounds and intersectionalities that exist in our country. As the nonpartisan Commission working to engage every American in commemorating and celebrating the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we are committed to highlighting the LGBTQIA+ community’s imprint on our nation’s history and identity. True progress is made through allyship and support, standing together to honor and advance the contributions and rights of all Americans.

The legacy of the LGBTQIA+ community is interwoven with the progress made in the fight for equality and justice. It is essential that their ideas, art, and visions are remembered and expanded upon for the next 250 years. We honor the achievements of these trailblazers and recognize the continued struggle for equal rights and acceptance. LGBTQIA+ leaders across various fields have significantly influenced society, demonstrating resilience, inspiring change, and paving the way for future generations.

Marsha P. Johnson, a Black transgender woman and drag queen, became one of the most well-known figures associated with the Stonewall Uprising. She co-founded the Gay Liberation Front and Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) with Sylvia Rivera, a Latina transgender activist and Stonewall veteran. Their activism for broader social justice causes, such as the rights of homeless individuals and people of color, helped lay the groundwork for many advancements in LGBTQIA+ rights.

Harvey Milk, elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors in 1977, is remembered as one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States. His activism and efforts to advance gay rights paved the way for many other openly gay politicians. Bayard Rustin, an openly gay civil rights leader and advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was a key architect of the 1963 March on Washington, highlighting the interconnectedness of struggles for equality. Despite facing significant discrimination due to his sexuality, Rustin’s contributions to the civil rights movement were invaluable.

Lani Ka’ahumanu, a bisexual activist, writer, and educator, has been a vocal advocate for bisexual visibility and inclusion within both the LGBTQIA+ and feminist movements. She co-founded BiPOL, the first and oldest bisexual political organization, and co-authored “Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out,” a groundbreaking anthology. On the silver screen, Laverne Cox has paved the way for other queer actors to establish themselves in a notoriously exclusionary industry. As an Emmy-nominated actress, she has used her platform to challenge stereotypes and push for greater representation and visibility for people of Trans experience. And on the playing field, Megan Rapinoe, one of the most high-profile openly gay athletes, has challenged stereotypes and promoted acceptance of LGBTQIA+ individuals in sports. As a World Cup Champion and Olympic Medalist, Rapinoe has used her platform to advocate for more inclusive environments for LGBTQIA+ individuals, in sports and beyond.

Let’s ensure every voice is heard and valued in our country’s ongoing journey toward equality. As the Chair of America250, I call upon every American to join me in honoring the legacy of LGBTQIA+ leaders. Our nation’s diversity sets us apart and enriches its fabric.

Happy Pride Month!

Rosie Rios

Chair

United States Semiquincentennial Commission

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