LIVE from NYPL, Online: LIVE from NYPL: Pride of the 80s & 90s

Date and Time
June 23, 2020
Event Details

Artists and activists reflect on organizing for gay liberation amidst the AIDS pandemic.

As a generation witnessed the AIDS crisis unfold amid a period of political conservatism, a new wave of direct action groups formed in response, including ACT UP, Queer Nation, and Lesbian Avengers. As these groups came into prominence, some became disillusioned by the mainstream gay rights movement and its failure to address challenges faced by LGBTQ BIPOC. Artists and activists began to take up the complexity of their overlapping social identities through their work.These forbearers set new standards for younger generations that helped them to better center intersectionality and allyship as guiding principles in the evolving fight for liberation today. 

Artists and activists Andrea Jenkins, Bill T. Jones, Toshi Reagon, and Pamela Sneed speak with moderator Kia LaBeija about their reflections on the various stances of their respective generations, the rise of identity politics, and the day-to-day realities of creativity and activism within that environment.

This is the second event in our series Pride Across Generations, a trio of programs convened online June 22-24, 2020. View the full list of programs here

Andrea Jenkins is the first Black transgender woman to be elected to public office in the United States.  She was elected to the Minneapolis City Council with 73% of the vote.  A poet and artist as well as a public official, Andrea is the author of the poetry collection, The T is Not Silent: New and Selected Poems, and  contributor to the acclaimed anthologies Queer Voices: Poetry, Prose and Pride, A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota, and Blues Vision: African American Writing from Minnesota.

Bill T. Jones is a multi-talented artist, choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer, and Associate Artist for the 2020 Holland Festival. Mr. Jones has received major honors including the Human Rights Campaign’s 2016 Visibility Award, 2013 National Medal of Arts to a 1994 MacArthur “Genius” Award and Kennedy Center Honors in 2010. He has won multiple Tony Awards for his work on Broadway and was named “An Irreplaceable Dance Treasure” in 2000 by the Dance Heritage Coalition. Mr. Jones is the Artistic Director, Co-Founder and Choreographer of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, founded in 1982 with his late partner Arnie Zane, and has created over 140 works for his company. He is the Artistic Director of New York Live Arts, an organization that strives to create a robust framework in support of the nation’s dance and movement-based artists through new approaches to producing, presenting, and educating.

Kia LaBeija (b.1990) is a fine artist born and raised in the heart of New York City, Hell’s Kitchen. She makes photographs, performance, collage, and film. She composes theatrical and cinematic autobiographical works; staging, re-imagining, sometimes documenting in real time or all of the above. She’s presented work at The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Brooklyn Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Museum of The City of New York, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, The International Center for Photography Danspace, and Performance Space New York. Highlighted commissions include the Performa 19 Biennial, W Magazine, Apple, DAZED, OUT Magazine, and Triple Canopy.

Toshi Reagon is a one-woman celebration of all that’s dynamic, progressive and uplifting in American music. Since first taking to the stage at 17, the versatile singer-songwriter-guitarist has moved audiences with her big-hearted, hold-nothing-back approach to rock, blues, R&B, country, folk, spirituals and funk. 

Pamela Sneed is a poet, professor, and performer, and the author of Sweet DreamsKong, and Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom than Slavery, and the forthcoming Funeral Diva, published by City Lights this October. She has performed at the Whitney Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Poetry Project, New York University, Pratt University, Smack Mellon Gallery, The High Line, Performa, Performance Space, Joe's Pub, The Public Theater, BRIC, and more. She is a member of the online faculty at Chicago's School of the Art Institute where she teaches Human Rights and Writing Art. 

If you have a NYPL library card—or live in New York state and want to apply for one now—you can borrow The Stonewall Reader and Love and Resistance: Out of the Closet into the Stonewall Era  for free with our e-reader app SimplyE, available for iOS and Android devices.

Readers everywhere who wish to purchase copies of The Stonewall Reader and Love and Resistance: Out of the Closet into the Stonewall Era  can do so at The New York Public Library Shop. All proceeds benefit The New York Public Library. Plus, receive a free commemorative 125th anniversary tote bag with your purchase!

If you are interested in the themes discussed in the Pride Across Generations programs, we recommend these titles for further reading:
Rubyfruit Jungle  by Rita Mae Brown
Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Our Movement  by Charlene Carruthers
How To Write an Autobiographical Novel : Essays  by Alexander Chee
When We Rise: My Life in the Movement  by Cleve Jones
How We Fight For Our Lives : A Memoir  by Saeed Jones
Zami : A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde
Making Gay History: The Half-Century Fight for Lesbian and Gay Equal Rights by Eric Marcus
Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation by Angel Kyodo Williams, Lama Rod Owens, and Jasmine Syedullah
How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective by Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor

This program will be streamed on Zoom and simulcast to YouTube. You must register with your email address in order to receive the link to participate. Please check your email shortly before the discussion to receive the link. Captions for this event will be provided.

Please send all press inquiries (photo, video, interviews, audio-recording, etc.) at least 24-hours before the day of the program to Sara Beth Joren at

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