The Empire State Building during New York Pride Source: Getty Images

Around the Town for Pride with Dr. Bill

Dr. William Kapfer READ TIME: 6 MIN.

While I enter Pride Month ready to spotlight LGBTQ+ voices and a broad spectrum of individuals, I believe spotlighting LGBTQ+ voices is important every day of the year.

In fact, over the course of my career, both as a diversity steward in corporate America, and as the former Publisher of Genre magazine, it has been my goal to foster a community where belonging is central, and a sense of home is paramount.

It is during Pride Month that members of the community, and LGBTQ+ history, are officially recognized in a month-long commemoration that I am humbled to be a part of.

Every June Pride Month is marked with a series of events and activities that aim to promote visibility, acceptance, and equality for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Eric Baker, "Once Upon A One More Time" producer Marc Levine, Dr. William Kapfer, and Philip Laffey

A Little Britney

For me, the month began with a sneak peek at Broadway's upcoming Britney Spears-powered jukebox musical, "Once Upon a One More Time."

The pop legend has been an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights throughout her entire 20+ year career.

Her Instagram account is always riddled with passionate messages about her support of the LGBTQ+ fans.

And who can forget her 2020 public "thank you" to LGBTQ+ fans during Pride Month!?

The singer posted a public service announcement video on Tuesday, June 23, paying homage to one of her most fervent fan groups with a: "Happy Pride Month!!!!," accompanied by a four-rainbow emoji.

"I love my LGBTQ+ fans so much," she exclaimed. "You all bring me so much joy, and I am proud to support you".

Britney has my vote as Queen of Pride, indeed!

The "Once Upon A One More Time" heroines were also out in full fairytale glory last week. This entertaining new musical revolves around a group of classic fairy tale princesses who are part of a book club when they discover a copy of "The Feminine Mystique."

The book, by Betty Friedan, that is widely credited with sparking second-wave feminism in the United States, is plopped into their laps by a rogue fairy godmother, inspiring them to challenge the traditional gender roles that have been imposed on them. It ultimately sends them on a journey to change their stories.

The show is set to the soundtrack of songs made famous by the Princess of Pop herself: Britney Spears, including her biggest hits, "Toxic," "Oops!...I Did it Again," "Baby One More Time," and my personal favorite, "Work Bitch."

J.C. Leyendecker (1874—1951), Illustration for Kuppenheimer advertisement (Record Time, Cool Summer Comfort), ca. 1920. Oil on canvas. National Museum of American Illustration, Newport, RI

Looking at American Masculinity

I had the great pleasure of being a co-host of a special viewing of an exhibit at the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library, in partnership with The American LGBTQ+ Museum, titled: "Under Cover: J.C. Leyendecker and American Masculinity."

The evening was underwritten by our friends at Proctor & Gamble, and was expertly produced by gay-owned PR firm LaForce.

The exhibition examines the work and influence of J.C. Leyendecker (1874–1951), a preeminent illustrator and commercial artist who helped shape American visual culture in the first three decades of the 20th century through captivating advertising campaigns, including the legendary "Arrow Collar Man," as well as countless covers for the Saturday Evening Post.

As a gay artist whose illustrations for a mainstream audience often had unspoken homoerotic undertones, his work is especially revealing for what it revealed about the cultural attitudes towards homosexuality of that period.

The show features 19 of the artist's original oil paintings and a wealth of related ephemera. It also showcases both Leyendecker's editorial work, such as magazine covers, as well as commercial illustrations that appeared in the pages of popular publications, in store windows, and on mass transit.

The show is up through Sunday, August 13th at the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library – 170 Central Park West in New York City.

Honoree Billy Porter speaks onstage during the Lambda Legal Liberty Awards on June 08, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for Lambda Legal )

@ Lambda Legal's Liberty Awards with Billy Porter

And finally, on Thursday June 8th, I attended Lambda Legal's annual Liberty Awards National Dinner at The Glasshouse at 660 12th Avenue (just off the West Side Highway) in New York.

The inspiring evening was a celebration of 50 Years of Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization litigating and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and everyone living with HIV.

It was an evening full of longtime friends and colleagues coming together to mark the 50th anniversary of a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people, and those with HIV through impact litigation, education, and public policy work.

I'd like to spotlight one of our closest friends: Longtime Lambda Legal supporter, and our evening's table host, McDermott Will and Emery's Lisa Linsky, who was McDermott Will and Emery's first partner-in-charge of Firm-wide Diversity and partner-in-charge of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Diversity and Inclusion.

And a hearty congratulations to Billy Porter for being honored with Lambda Legal's 'Liberty Award' for his unwavering commitment to the LGBTQ+ community and those impacted by HIV and AIDS throughout his career as an artist and advocate.

Also, congratulations to Urvashi Vaid for being this year's recipient of the Kevin Cathcart Movement Leader award. The beloved Kate Clinton touched our hearts as she accepted Urvashi's award posthumously.

Amanda Lepore attends the Thierry Mugler: Couturissime Exhibition Opening Night at Brooklyn Museum on November 15, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

It is always entertaining running into former club kid, model, singer, and performance artist Amanda Lapore; she is, by far, one of the most recognized transgender public figures in the world.

Indeed, I had the pleasure of first meeting Amanda many years ago through our mutual friend, the late Bruce Lynn, former publicist for the nightclub Limelight.

Big thanks to nightlife legend, and NYC's patron saint of transformation and inclusion, Susanne Bartsch, for another stunningly produced afterparty – just off of the heels of her smashing success with the VIP opening of David Barton Gym U NYC.

Finally, let me close by sharing how extremely grateful I am to our evening's host with the most: Former Obama Official, GLSEN Founder, award-winning author, and Lambda Legal CEO Kevin Jennings, for his continued contributions to the LGBT movement.

It is a great privilege for me to be a part of this profound community! Happy Pride Month!

by Dr. William Kapfer

Read These Next