RAZZ Pride Icons: Arsham Parsi

Currently 38 years old and living in exile in Canada, Arsham Parsi is an Iranian queer refugee activist working to help his community in Iran. Parsi says that he came to terms with his sexuality early on and after a transgender friend ended her life, he decided he must begin to discreetly help the situation for Iranian queers. This work included helping a local doctor carry out research on HIV among gay and bisexual men in their city, before he turned his efforts to covertly advancing queer civil rights. In 2003 he started a Yahoo group chat called “Voice Celebration” which gained a total of 50 participants who could establish connections and lean on each other for support; all operated under a false identity (including Parsi) due to the dire legal situation for LGBTQ+ people in Iran, which still operates the death penalty. Unfortunately, in 2005, he found out that the Islamic authorities had begun to unravel his identity and were looking for “a gay activist named Arsham,” so he was forced to flee to Turkey where he registered as a refugee and lived for three months before being relocated to Canada. Continue reading RAZZ Pride Icons: Arsham Parsi

RAZZ Pride Icons: The Salsa Soul Sisters, Third World Wimmin Inc Collective

The Salsa Soul Sisters, Third World Wimmin Inc Collective was the first “out” organisation for lesbians, womanists, and women of colour in New York City and is now the oldest black lesbian organisation in the USA. They grew out of the Black Lesbian Caucus of the Gay Activist Alliance, officially splitting in 1974 and inviting Latina women to join (they would also later include Native American and Asian members). Original collective member Candice Boyce said that there “was no other place for women of color to go and sit down and talk about what it means to be a black lesbian in America”. Continue reading RAZZ Pride Icons: The Salsa Soul Sisters, Third World Wimmin Inc Collective

RAZZ Pride Icons: Phillip Picardi

Phillip Picardi, if not already, will be a publishing legend. After completing his degree from NYU in 2012, Picardi began his career working at Racked and Teen Vogue. Two years later, he became senior beauty editor at Refinery 29 but just seven months into the job, Picardi returned to Teen Vogue as digital editorial director (this is all by the age of 25). He worked closely with editor-in-chief Elaine Welteroth and creative director Marie Suter, transforming the publication’s branding and turning towards politics, social issues, and activism. Condé Nast said that during Picardi’s time at Teen Vogue, “traffic to TeenVogue.com has increased to more than 9.2 million unique visitors, up from 2.7 million unique visitors last year, mobile traffic more than doubled with an increase of 109 percent year on year, and video viewers grew 989 percent”. Continue reading RAZZ Pride Icons: Phillip Picardi

RAZZ Pride Icons: Brenda Howard

Brenda Howard was a bisexual, polyamorous, LGBTQ+ activist. In a movement that sadly has a tendency to erase bisexual people, Brenda Howard led a fierce fight for bisexual people and helped her LGBTQ+ peers admirably. Most notably, she coordinated a rally to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, AKA the first ever Pride march. Otherwise known as the “Mother of Pride”,  she helped evolve the march into Pride Day, and then into Pride Month. Continue reading RAZZ Pride Icons: Brenda Howard

RAZZ Pride Icons: Bayard Rustin

Martin Luther King Jr.’s right-hand man, a tireless Civil Rights activist, and an openly gay man – Bayard Rustin fought throughout his life against prejudice, yet he still faces a great deal of historical erasure. Born in 1912, Rustin learnt and adopted Quaker values of nonviolence from a very early age. In 1937, he went to college in New York and joined the Young Communist League because of their progressive views on racial issues but left at the start of the Second World War when it began to emphasise support for the Soviet Union. His focus then shifted to socialism and he joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) in 1941. In 1944, Rustin was arrested as a “conscientious objector” because he refused to register for the draft, being so against the war as he was, and faced a number of other arrests during his time with FOR. Continue reading RAZZ Pride Icons: Bayard Rustin

RAZZ Pride Icons: Queen Christina of Sweden

When her father King Gustav II Adolph died in battle, a six year old Christina was elected queen. She took the throne in 1632 when she was 18, after receiving the typical education of a prince. She wore androgynous dress and opposed marriage and motherhood, instead drowning herself in education and politics. She even started Sweden’s first newspaper in 1650 and established peace for her nation in the 30 Years War (1618-1648), known as one of the most destructive conflicts in European history. Continue reading RAZZ Pride Icons: Queen Christina of Sweden

RAZZ Pride Icons: Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny

Affectionately known by many as the mother and father of the Gay Rights Movement in America, Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny worked tirelessly, both independently and together, for gay rights. Gittings, in the late 1950s, followed on from Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon (see profile) and started the New York chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) and, in 1963, went on to take over as editor of The Ladder, their national gay women’s magazine. Kameny, however, never intended to become an activist until, in the midst of the ‘Lavender Scare,’ he was fired from the Army Map Service (the precursor to NASA) for refusing to answer questions about his sexuality. With a derailed career as a budding astronaut, Kameny appealed to the Supreme Court about his firing and, though it declined to consider his case, it became the first civil rights case based on sexual orientation filed in a U.S. court. Continue reading RAZZ Pride Icons: Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny

RAZZ Pride Icons: Liza Cowan and Penny House

Liza Cowan and Penny House had been best friends since they were four, and in their mid-twenties in 1975 decided to launch DYKE magazine – a quarterly of lesbian culture and analysis. Living in 1970s New York at the time, the pair were in the midst of explorative conversations around lesbian culture, with their magazine following the lesbian separatist ideology. Lesbian separatism mainly followed the ideal of living without men entirely in patriarchy-free, women-only communities. The magazine said “We want to publish a magazine that fulfils our need for analysis, communication and news of Lesbian culture. We believe that “Lesbian culture” presumes a separatist analysis. If Lesbian culture is intermixed with straight culture, it is no longer Lesbian; it is heterosexual or heterosocial because energy and time are going to men”. Continue reading RAZZ Pride Icons: Liza Cowan and Penny House

RAZZ Pride Icons: Stormé DeLarverie

Born in 1920 New Orleans, Stormé DeLarverie was a biracial lesbian without a birth certificate (because interracial marriage was illegal) who went on to become a brilliant drag king and a queer legend. She was racially abused a lot in her youth and when she realised she was also gay, she moved, fearing that she’d be murdered if she stayed in the South. Continue reading RAZZ Pride Icons: Stormé DeLarverie

RAZZ Pride Icons: Mabel Hampton

Mabel Hampton was born in 1902 in North Carolina, later moving to Harlem. She met Lillian Foster in 1932 and the two were together for 45 years. Foster said in 1976: “Forty-four years ago I met Mabel. We was a wonderful pair. I’ll never forget it. But she’s a little tough. I met her in 1932, September twenty-second. And we haven’t been separated since in our whole life. Death will separate us. Other than that I don’t want it to end.” Foster died two years later in 1978. Continue reading RAZZ Pride Icons: Mabel Hampton