Memphis Proud: The Resilience of a Southern LGBTQ+ Community
Memphis Proud: The Resilience of a Southern LGBTQ+ Community taps into the heart of our region. Memphis Proud 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. Through a large collection of local artifacts, photographs, and stories, Memphis Proud tells the story of how our LGBTQ+ community responded to national challenges, such as the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights and the AIDS crisis, and the community’s own unique successes and challenges.
Memphis is a city that prides itself on community engagement, and this exhibit spotlights the ways in which LGBTQ+ Memphians engaged in local community building, from finding support in open and affirming faith-based institutions, to building formal community centers to creating informal gathering places in bars, bookstores, house parties and restaurants. The creators of the exhibit assembled a committee of 20 local community leaders, LGBTQ+ activists, and allies of the LGBTQ+ movement that met monthly to help create the movement’s authentic stories. It led discussions on housing, education, nightlife, religion and allies of their fight for acceptance and inclusion.
The exhibit draws attention to the accomplishments of local leaders who have led the charge in this city to fight for the dignity and humanity of their community, and introduces a new generation of activists who continue to challenge discrimination and increase the visibility and influence of the LGBTQ+ population of Memphis.
In the spirit of Memphis Proud, the exhibit also highlights joyful celebrations of LGBTQ+ identity, with events like Pride parades and drag shows which emphasize how LGBTQ+ Memphians have long created their own culture in the face of prejudice and exclusion.