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Newseum Opens ‘Rise Up’ Exhibit on Anniversary of LGBTQ Riots

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Newseum, an interactive museum located in Washington, D.C. that highlights the importance of free press and the First Amendment, opened a landmark exhibition on March 8, marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots.

The new exhibit titled “Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement” explores the gay rights movement in the country, and also indicates how the 1969 police raid of the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village acted as a catalyst for the modern LGBTQ liberation movement.

“I think people were excited. There’s a lot of excitement around this anniversary… and people were excited that we were planning such a big exhibit on this topic. Everybody we reached out to seem enthused about the idea,” Patty Rhule, the vice president of content and exhibit development at the Newseum, told the Washington Blade.

In the opening section of the exhibit on LGBTQ portrayals in pop culture, actors such as Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Cynthia Nixon, and George Takei appear in video installations and talk about their experiences as LGBTQ actors.

Also part of the exhibit is a textual and photographic depiction of what happened at Stonewall and the scant coverage the event received in the mainstream media at the time.

The exhibit also features items like the madras sports coat Jim Obegrefell was wearing during his wedding, and the sewing machine used by Gilbert Baker to make the first rainbow flag. LGBTQ media outlets such as the Washington Blade, now-defunct publications The Ladder and Frontiers are also included in the exhibition.

Some of the modern LGBTQ figures including Janelle Monae, Anderson Cooper, Adam Rippon, Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox, Rachel Maddow, and Ellen DeGeneres will take place in a large panel discussion at the end of the exhibit.

Maeve Scott, Newseum’s director of collections and registrar, said that she was hoping the exhibit would inspire the visitors. “A lot of these people were just everyday people who used their First Amendment rights to enact change. If this group did this, other groups can as well, and this is not the end of the story,” she added.

The exhibit will be on display until December 31, 2019, and travel nationally afterwards.

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