The History of Pride Month
For the past 50 years, the month of June has been known as Pride Month, a month dedicated to the LGBTQI+ community. While Pride Month may have gained a reputation for being marked with parades and parties, it has a much deeper and richer past, present, and future.
LGBTQI+ Pride Month takes place during June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, which took place in June 1969. Eight officers from a unit of the police department called the ‘Public Morals Division’ raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village in New York.
Raids on gay bars and other kinds of gay nightlife weren’t uncommon at the time, as gay (then used as an umbrella term for all LGBTQI+ people) bars often had mob and mafia connections and homosexuality, crossdressing, and serving alcohol to homosexuals were illegal. But on this evening, the patrons decided to fight back. It’s not known exactly who started the uprising, but the bar patrons and onlookers began to clash with the police, leading to riots and protests that night and following nights.
There had been plenty of uprisings before Stonewall. In May of 1959 – a whole 10 years before Stonewall- police had attempted to arrest an angry crowd of gay men, trans women, drag queens, and male sex workers at a late night coffee shop called Cooper Do- nuts in Los Angeles, only to be pelted with coffee and donuts. There were sit-ins at bars and lunch counters across the USA, such as at Dewey’s Lunch Counter in Philadelphia in 1965, and at the bar known as Julius’ in New York City in 1966. What may have made Stonewall historical important, however, is what came after it.
A year later in 1970, a parade was organised to celebrate the anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. Originally called Christopher Street Liberation Day, after Christopher Street in New York City where the Stonewall Inn was located, the parade was carried out alongside parallel demonstrations across the USA. Brenda Howard, the feminist bisexual rights activist who coordinated this march, originally came up with the idea for a week long series of celebrations around Pride day, and is credited with popularising the word ‘Pride’ to refer to these celebrations is known by some as ‘The Mother Of Pride’.
Pride Month and LGBTQI+ Rights Today
Both LGBTQI+ people’s experiences and Pride have changed dramatically in the 50 years since the first Pride parades. In 2019, nearly over 100,00 marchers attended the New York City Pride March, with an estimated 4 million people watching! There seems to be a world of difference between Pride in 1969 and 2020, but the fight for LGBTQI+ equality isn’t over. Even in countries where marriage equality exists, this does not mean other LGBTQI+ rights are not under threat, and that we shouldn’t promote the self-affirmation, dignity, and equality of LGBTQI+ people.
Trans rights have come under fire in the UK, with the government not only rejecting gender recognition reform but seeming to suggest potentially rolling back healthcare for trans youth, while transgender people in the USA have also seen their healthcare protections revoked. In Germany, non-binary people still do not have any kind of legal recognition, and trans people who underwent mandatory sterilisation to change their sex on identity documents prior to 2011 have not received any compensation, unlike their counterparts in
other countries like Sweden. Mainstream Pride programming has frequently come under fire for not including or being welcoming to LGBTQI+ Black and Indigenous people, as well as other people of colour. And while not all sex workers are LGBTQ and not all LGBTQI+ people are sex workers, sex worker rights and LGBTQI+ rights often go hand in hand-both movements believe that police and state have no right to infringe on body autonomy, and many of the participants at Stonewall and in the uprisings that made Stonewall possible were themselves sex workers. Laws like the SESTA-FOSTA acts of 2018 continue make the lives of sex workers (including LGBTQI+ sex workers) more unsafe. The need for Pride Month is far from over.
How To Celebrate Pride Month 2022
After a break due to the COVID-19 pandemic Pride Month can finally be celebrated to the fullest again. An abundance of LGBTQIA+ events are taking place everywhere…from protests to parties queer energy is in the air. Pride Month can be celebrated by anyone who wants to raise awareness to the struggles that the community has faced. It is of course everyones own choice how to celebrate this very historic month, but remember that standing up for LGBTQIA+ rights is always important and should be done by everyone, as there are still SO many injustices happening everywhere.
In Europe one of the most famous parades/ parties is the Christopher Street Day (CSD). The biggest happens in Berlin each year. This annual protest began after an incident on the 28th of June 1969. Another police raid of gay bars and spaces on this night targeted the „Stonewall Inn“ which was situated on the corner of the Christopher Street. On this night there was an increasing pushback against the raids, and the protests against this lasted several days. This started a new movement of emancipation and by the end of July the “Gay Liberation Front” was created, it was one of the first public fights for tolerance towards the LGBTQIA+ community.
There are usually calendars for all types of different events and protests in your city that you can find online. So check them out and decide which ones you want to take part in.