The March on Washington 1987 to The Women’s March 2017

Outlook Ohio News: The March on Washington 1987 to The Women’s March 2017

As the nation prepares to change leadership we decided to take a look back to the past to view the present.

In 1987 the LGBT community was facing a major health crisis, AIDS, marriage equality was a pipe dream, and discrimination against the gay, lesbian community was widely considered acceptable.  Ronald Regan was President of the United States and was not an advocate for anything associated with the “Gay Rights Movement.”  Money for health care, drugs, and services for people living with AIDS was almost non-existent. Bill Hardy, Equitas CEO, would soon begin his career advocating for people living with AIDS.


Jerry Falwell was the religious voice spreading hate speech.   A common myth permeated the heterosexual community that homosexuals were sexual deviants and notorious pedophiles.  the Court of Appeals ruled that there was no ‘fundamental right’ to be gay.  In the UK Margaret Thatcher’s government created Clause 28 of the Local Government Act, making it illegal for local authorities to support anything that might promote homosexual relationships as a viable alternative to heterosexual ‘family life’.  1986 Pope John Paul II labeled us “evil” and ordered the Church to withdraw all support from gay Catholic organizations.  Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition would begin forming and fighting for tougher abortion laws.

1987 Larry Kramer was asked to give a speech on the Gay Health Crisis and asked the question, “Do we want to start a new organization devoted to political action?” The answer was “a resounding yes.” Approximately 300 people met two days later ACT UP was created.

Not everything was bad in the eighties with gay culture.

Late one night in the spring of ’84 a drunken group of friends, seeking more diversions, closed the Pyramid Club and traipsed over to Tompkins Square Park, six-packs in tow. Brian Butterick, Michael “Kitty” Ullman, Wendy Wild, The “Lady” Bunny and a few members of the Fleshtones were horsing around in the bandshell when someone (no one remembers who, it’s all such a blur) came up with the idea of putting on a show – a day-long drag festival – and calling it Wigstock. It was Bunny who was foolhardy enough to take the idea seriously, going recklessly ahead and getting the necessary permits.  Wigstock, an underground drag party that a few years later would become an international event and movie. Source: Wigstock

Image: Mapplethorpe

In 1989, Robert Mapplethorpe’s “The Perfect Moment” caused a commotion with the Republican party who were debating deleting the National Endowment for the Arts funding.  Dennis Barrie, director of Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center, decided he had to have it at his museum. Police shut down the exhibit Cincinnati and lawsuit gaining national attention followed.  Vice Mayor David Mann, Cincinnati City Council member at the time said, “It (the trial) kind of made us the laughing stock of sophisticated communities.” Source: Washington Post



Underground filmmaker, John Waters, whose movies include: Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, and the “snif-a-rama” Polyester, would introduce the drag queen Divine to the mainstream in the movie Hairspray.  A musical comedy starring Sonny Bono, Debbie Harry, Jerry Stiller was a story about A ‘pleasantly plump’ teenager teaches 1962 Baltimore a thing or two about racial integration after landing a spot on a local TV dance show. Source: IMDB

Image: Pinterst


Andy Warhol’s magazine, Interview, became an iconic view into the underground artistic community of film, fashion music of the subculture, such as the gay and lesbian communities.  Cultural gay icon Madonna was in the early stages of her career and Dayton was host to one the midwest’s largest gay nightclubs, 1470 West.
Ohio LGBT newsprint media included sources such as Stonewall Columbus, Dayton’s Rightfully Proud.  Each major metropolitan area had their own print media.
As you embark to Washington D.C., Cincinnati or any other Women’s March, or protest, this is a golden opportunity to reflect or learn about the recent past to remind yourself, and others, of the gains we have made and acknowledge the fight is not over, the struggle is real. We can never maintain silence.
Outlook Ohio is embarking on the journey with you.  We will continue to work with the LGBTQAI communities throughout the state to bring you political and artistic points of view. Silence = Death


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