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8 Reasons to Check Out ‘Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement’ at Newseum
The new Washington, DC museum exhibit is a landmark display that tells a fascinating and inspiring story.
A June 1969 police raid of the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village altered the trajectory of LGBTQ rights in America. That night, LGBTQ patrons of the bar refused to back down from discriminatory law enforcement, leading to days’ worth of protests, which sparked a national conversation in the process. This year, Newseum honors the 50th anniversary of the momentous occasion with a powerful exhibit, Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement. Read on for reasons why you can’t miss this powerful display, which will be showcased through Dec. 31 in the city that features the highest LGBTQ population in the U.S.
From its prologue that details Harry Hays and the Mattachine Society and the founding of the Daughters of Bilitis in San Francisco, Rise Up will take you on a chronological journey from the 1950s to today, highlighting monumental moments of progress for LGBTQ civil rights, as well as the discrimination and legal challenges faced along the way.
A Front Pages section offers newspaper headlines and magazine covers that display prominent LGBTQ figures and issues. Next up, The Power of Popular Culture documentary details how, after societal shifts through the decades, television and film became more sympathetic in their depictions of LGBTQ people. As time has progressed, these portraits in popular media have helped to move LGBTQ rights forward, including gay marriage and adoption laws. The video is accompanied by a photographic summary of important moments in this evolution. And of course, since this is the Newseum, images and newspapers illuminate developments throughout the exhibit.
Gilbert Baker’s original eight-color rainbow flag and the sewing machine used to craft it. The suit Jim Obergefell wore on the day he married John Arthur. The binder used by lawyer Paul M. Smith as he successfully argued against Texas’ anti-sodomy law on behalf of John Lawrence in 2003. A heartbreaking image of Brandon Teena and Lana Tisdel before Teena’s tragic death. All of these are rare artifacts that Rise Up prominently displays to reveal tales of both tragedy and triumph.
While the exhibit makes sure to prominently highlight historical occurrences in the fight for LGBTQ rights, including the goings-on and incredible cultural significance of the riots at Stonewall Inn in 1969, the rise of Harvey Milk and the battle for AIDS research and medicine, Rise Up also takes you through LGBTQ achievements and issues of the present day. The success of LGBTQ candidates in the 2018 mid-terms, including Danica Roem’s election to the Virginia House of Delegates, as well as Gavin Grimm’s Supreme Court battle for transgender rights are part of the exhibit, simultaneously showcasing the progress of LGBTQ rights and how the fight is far from over.
There’s an undeniable truth running throughout Rise Up: courageous activism is essential to American progress and true equality. Frank Kempny’s Annual Reminder March gave LGBTQ rights a voice of protest in the 1960s, paving the way for the bravery displayed during the riots at Stonewall Inn. Two of the protestors that evening in 1969, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, went on to fight for transgender rights in the 1970s. In the 1980s, Jeffrey Schmaltz of The New York Times and Randy Shilts of the San Francisco Chronicle used their pulpits to propel the AIDS epidemic into the mainstream. On and on this thread goes, showing that individuals and groups that have exercised their Constitutional rights to fight for what they believe in have been essential to the LGBTQ rights movement – and are essential to America maintaining the ideals it was founded upon.
Rise Up encourages user feedback and participation through interactive touch screens situated throughout the exhibit. The screens offer opinion-based questions surrounding key political and discriminatory issues that affect the LGBTQ community. After you answer, the most popular choice is shown and further enlightenment on the issue is given through text and video clips. You can also join the conversation online by using #RiseUpTheExhibit.
After exploring the wealth of artifacts, images and information in the Rise Up display, head to Newseum’s Robert H. and Clarice Smith Big Screen Theater to watch a 20-minute documentary that reveals the history of LGBTQ rights in remarkable detail. The 100-foot wide video wall provides riveting visuals and narration, showcasing monumental moments and the people that lived through them. You can dive even deeper into Rise Up with a stay at Hamilton Hotel Washington DC’s new signature suite, ‘The Newsroom: Rise Up’, part of the hotel’s multimillion dollar transformation and curated in tandem with Alan Cumming.
Your exploration of Newseum should not end with Rise Up. The visually stunning covers 250,000 square feet and seven levels, highlighting the powers of journalism and free expression, as well as its effect on American history and daily life through cutting-edge technology and interactive exhibits. At the NBC News Interactive Newsroom, visitors are challenged to meet the deadline with a compelling, accurate report, using touch-screen stations to see what it’s like to be a photographer or reporter on the front lines.