For Gay Pride Month, Billboard asked numerous pop culture luminaries to write ‘love letters’ to the LGBTQ community. Below, June Millington — co-founder and lead guitarist of the pioneering outfit Fanny, one of the first all-female rock groups — shares hers. Read more Pride Month love letters here.
Pride? You bet. Congratulations to us all!
The first Gay Pride March I saw and felt was in San Francisco in the ’mid-70s, and was that ever a cosmic rainbow of bursting energy and joy in simply being, and seeing each other — wow! Thousands, throats growling and laughing and expressing what had heretofore been inexpressible. You just didn’t do that in public. And there were also many hundreds, maybe other thousands of people lining the streets, smiling and laughing too. Amazing! (later, I played that very Pride March in the ’80s and ’90s. It just got bigger!).
But my first experience of a lesbian audience, to the max, was at the Women’s Building in LA, Fall of ’75. They were fundraising to finish the building and people like Cris Williamson, Meg Christian, Holly Near (some of the early voices of the Women’s Music Movement) and many others performed on the gleaming wood floor of an empty room, the entire floor packed, everyone gathered around the performers. I was fascinated by the audiences – I’d been in the rock and roll and funk thing for many years, even having met Cher (our band Fanny was on The Sonny and Cher Show in ’71); met David Bowie (he was a fan); played with Barbra Streisand (Fanny backed her, live, on two songs on the Barbra Joan Streisand album) – who were unlike any I’d ever seem. There was a feeling in the air, almost like what I experienced at the March On Washington in February 2017. Forty-seven years later! Then, and now, it was like walking on champagne, breathing in something so, so very special. It was we who were special! And that was dawning on us … we were gathering in numbers that expanded so lightning quickly. Pure magic.
Then I went with Cris on her ground-breaking Changer and the Changed tour in ’76, and my amazement continued. This included New York City in that bi-centennial celebration year. It was epic, all of it: from Smith College to churches and whatever rooms and venues people could put together. I saw the full expanding scope of lesbian and gay audiences, and realized we were moving forward inexorably, there was no going back. Later that year, we played at a rather large club/bar in Berkeley with Lily Tomlin, and I just had to rub my eyes. Imagine, all that raw energy, the talent! The audiences were ecstatic, and it was contagious.
When the time was right, we could finally see each other’s eyes. And there was joy, a lot of it. We’re here, we know it, and we’re growin’ it. So, Happy Pride to us all!