Pride Month, Its Origins And Why It's So Important
Pride Month. A global celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual community. A month of recognition, festivities, empowerment, and love. A month to educate and reflect on the history and movement of LGBTQI+.
This year’s theme, “Be Brave, Be Strong, Be You” is a symbolic ode, a clear and direct proclamation of how being oneself can, and does, take depths of strength and bravery.
The origins of Pride Month can be traced back to June 1969, where a brutal police raid on Stonewall Inn in New York City ignited resistance and a global movement for liberation. The resistance came to be known as the Stonewall Uprising — a series of events between police, patrons, and protesters that spanned over six days.
Now this wasn’t the first time police had raided a gay bar, nor was it the first time the LGBTQI+ community had fought back — it was the events that unfolded over these six days that changed the nature of LGBTQI+ activism across the world.
The Birth of Gay Pride
Homosexuality and “three or more items of gender-inappropriate clothing,” (Library of Congress) was classed as a criminal offence during the 60’s, and so too was it to serve alcohol to anyone known to be gay. This drove an entire community underground into Mafia controlled territory and gave way to raids and police brutality— a regularity happening across the US at the time.
During the early hours of the morning on June 28, 1969, non-uniformed officers stormed Stonewall Inn, authorising an investigation of the illegal sale of alcohol with the “justification” of a warrant. Interrogations of both patrons and staff began, with arrests of all “cross-dressers” ordered and physical displays of police brutality witnessed by a growing crowd outside.
The resistance raged through the early morning. Crowds grew, and those privy to the arrests and mistreatment called for justice. Word spread quickly across New York, and by nightfall that same day, thousands of protesters rallied together at the Stonewall and surrounding areas. The protests lasted into the week with intense fighting reaching a tipping point by Wednesday and a prolific message that reverberated across the world and transformed LGBTQI+ rights, globally.
“Many new activists consider the Stonewall Uprising the birth of the gay liberation movement. Certainly it was the birth of gay pride of a massive scale” – The Gay Crusaders, by Kay Tobin & Randy Wicker, 1972
Love is Love
On the first anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, the first Pride March was held to “…commemorate the [Stonewall] Uprisings of last summer in which thousands of homosexuals went to the streets to demonstrate against centuries of abuse….from government hostility to employment and housing discrimination, Mafia control of Gay bars, and anti-Homosexual laws.” (Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee Fliers, University of Connecticut).
Since then, June has been a powerful reminder and a celebration of Pride and Pride Month — along with its continual uprising and the people that have and continue to fight for equality and justice, for those, themselves, and for a community that has been shunned, exploited and abused for too many lifetimes.