Memphis Proud: The Resilience of a Southern LGBTQ+ Community

Memphis Gay Pride March 1981  [Photo by John Parrott; courtesy of Pride Archives] 
Banner image: Memphis Pride Parade 2016 (Courtesy of Pride Archives c. 2016)

Opens June 4

June 4 – September 26

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.

Check out MoSH Summer Pride Events & Activities.


Learn more about our national traveling exhibit from the Newseum/Freedom Forum Rise Up: Stonewall & the LGBTQ Rights Movement.

 A Queer Understanding Podcast (featuring Memphis Museum of Science & History)

Once a month from May to September, Angelica and Cassy will release an episode surrounding MoSH and the LGBTQ+ history of Memphis.

The May episode featured the director of exhibits and collections Raka Nandi, as well as two of her interns, Olivia Roman and Patrick Grooms, that made the exhibit possible. You can listen to the May episode here:

Raka Nandi - MoSH Director of Exhibits & Collections
Olivia Roman - MoSH Intern
Patrick Grooms - MoSH Intern

Presented By



Sponsored by


Archer Malmo’s LGBTQIA+ ERG

Focus Magazine

International Paper


Raymond James

Sowell Realtors

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