Digital exhibit celebrates Vermont’s first pride march in 1983
The Vermont Folklife Center and the Pride Center of Vermont announce the opening of “Pride 1983,” a new online exhibit. Through interviews with organizers, photographs and scanned images of historic documents “Pride 1983” explores the origins and lasting legacies of Vermont’s first Pride March on June 25, 1983 in Burlington. View the virtual exhibit at vtfolklife.org/pride-1983.
On June 25, 1983, the First Lesbian and Gay Pride March in Vermont took place in Burlington, 14 years after the Stonewall Uprising in New York City. From the very beginning, the Pride events in Vermont were a celebration as well as a march. Three hundred fifty people rallied in City Hall Park and marched through downtown Burlington — a memorable event that has taken place in either Burlington or Montpelier every year since.
“The original activists and participants were generous with their time and wisdom in working with us on ‘Pride 1983,’” said exhibit curator, Meg Tamulonis. “I am so moved by their willingness to speak with us and their real bravery in publicly marching for Pride in 1983, when so much was at risk.”
Curated by Tamulonis of the Vermont Queer Archives — a program of the Pride Center of Vermont — “Pride 1983” draws on archival materials from that collection as well as from UVM Special Collections, the Out in the Open Andrews Inn Oral History Project, and the personal collections of those featured in the exhibit. In addition, Tamulonis worked with the Vermont Folklife Center to conduct interviews with twelve activists and organizers crucial to the establishment of Pride in Burlington.
The exhibit includes a series of stunning portrait photographs of these early pride founders, taken by renowned Brooklyn-based photographer and Bennington College alumnus, M. Sharkey (msharkey.com).
“It has been an honor to work in collaboration with this team to spotlight the efforts of these courageous Vermonters,” said Pride Center executive director, Mike Bensel. “These heroes need to be celebrated for galvanizing a path towards liberation and justice for LGBTQ+ people in our great little state. We gratefully stand on their shoulders while we continue this important work.”
“Pride 1983” will remain an online-only exhibit until the Vermont Folklife Center Vision & Voice Gallery in Middlebury reopens after the abatement of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The physical exhibit will open in Middlebury and will then travel to sites in Burlington and around the state.
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