See Wisconsin history through a new lens in the all-new PBS Wisconsin documentary, Wisconsin Pride. The film brings hidden LGBTQ+ stories forward, and reconsiders our state’s history in that light.
Premiering on PBS Wisconsin and available for streaming online June 2023, the two-hour documentary is a groundbreaking collaboration between PBS Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Historical Society.
LGBTQ+ history is Wisconsin history. Learn about trailblazing Wisconsinites who, when faced with intolerance, responded by creating community, living authentically, fighting for rights and having pride in themselves.
The first hour of the film explores how diversity in sexual orientation, gender identity and expression are a normal part of the human experience. The documentary opens with Indigenous people prior to Wisconsin’s European colonization, and continues through the 19th and 20th centuries. This half of the documentary considers how being different from the mainstream could provide a unique perspective that enabled LGBTQ+ people to contribute in ways others could not imagine.
Even in a closeted era, LGBTQ+ Wisconsinites found each other, created community, mentored each other and achieved great things.
Wisconsin Pride also features and celebrates R. Richard Wagner’s work as a historian and author. Wagner, who passed away in 2021, is featured in the documentary and his two-volume history from the Wisconsin Historical Society Press provided guidance and inspiration. Wagner was an activist, historian, gay rights leader, elected official, and public servant who worked for the state of Wisconsin for 33 years.
The second hour of the film explores how forward-looking Wisconsinites challenged LGBTQ+ harassment and injustice in visionary ways, long before these efforts received national attention. Through organized protest, an independent press and gay bar-centered social networks, a movement grew that helped build a coalition for legislative LGBTQ+ rights. Embracing and celebrating Wisconsin’s LGBTQ+ history is vital for protecting these hard-won human rights and expanding them to all.