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Two LGBTQ Exhibits in Memphis This Summer

Rise Up and Memphis Proud chronicle milestones in LGBTQ+ people’s struggle for equality, acceptance, and community both on the national scene and locally. 

The Museum of Science & History (MoSH) will host two exhibitions showcasing the history of LGBTQ+ acceptance and equality. Both exhibitions will be open to visitors from June 4 to September 26, 2022.  

“Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement” is a national traveling exhibition created by the Newseum in Washington, D.C., exploring the origins of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement in the United States. Beginning with the June 1969 police raid of the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village and the response of the gay, lesbian and transgender community who resisted the raid, the exhibition sheds light on important milestones of LGBTQ+ rights history, from the AIDS crisis to the military’s Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell policy to the struggle for same-sex marriage equality. Rise Up also explores pop culture’s role in influencing attitudes about the LGBTQ+ community through film, television, and sports and examines how the LGBTQ+ rights movement used media and public forums to leverage legal change and break down stereotypes.  

“Memphis Proud: The Resilience of a Southern LGBTQ+ Community,” researched and curated by the MoSH staff, is a separate exhibit that examines the history and culture of the city’s LGBTQ+ population and explores how LGBTQ+ Memphians of different backgrounds and experiences have come together to form thriving communities and provide powerful voices for change and acceptance in Memphis.  

“This exhibit was possible because Memphis’ LBGTQ+ citizens have remained committed to creating strong communities and fostering a culture of activism,” says Raka Nandi, Director of Exhibits and Collections for MoSH. “The local LGBTQ+ community is diverse, and the exhibit emphasizes a multiplicity of voices in LGBTQ+ organizations of the Mid-South. One of our biggest challenges was ensuring we represented the full diversity of the Memphis LGBTQ+ community – in terms of race, generational difference, and sexual orientation. We hope the community will continue to add its stories through the exhibit’s run.” 

The exhibit’s curators developed an advisory committee of local community leaders, activists, and allies of the LGBTQ+ movement who met monthly to discuss the exhibition’s themes. These meetings fueled spirited discussions on housing, nightlife, religion, and other issues related to the lives of the LGBTQ+ people of Memphis. The exhibition draws attention to the accomplishments of local leaders who have led the charge in the battle for legal and social acceptance within the community. It also highlights a new generation of activists who continue to challenge discrimination and increase the visibility and influence of the LGBTQ+ population of Memphis. 

The two exhibitions, Rise Up and Memphis Proud, open on June 4 and run through September 26. For more information, visit their website

The Rise Up and Memphis Proud Exhibits are presented by FedEx and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, with additional support from International Paper, Nike, Sowell Realtors, and BeAM, an LGBTQIA+ ERG from Archer Malmo. 

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