It’s Pride, Baby!

For the last 50 years, June has been recognized as Pride Month, a dedicated period for celebrating the LGBTQIA2S+ community. While this month is often associated with parades and parties, it has a much deeper and richer past, present and future.


The History of Pride Month

LGBTQIA2S+ Pride Month, occurring each June, commemorates the Stonewall Riots of June 1969. During this pivotal moment, eight officers from the “Public Morals Division” of the police department raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York.At that time, raids on gay bars—all LGBTQIA2S+ bars were “gay” bars then—and other LGBTQIA2S+ establishments were not uncommon, given the illegal status of homosexuality, cross-dressing, and serving alcohol to homosexuals. Many gay bars had connections to the mob and mafia, making them frequent targets. However, on this particular evening, the patrons decided to resist. It’s not known exactly who started the uprising, but clashes between bar patrons, onlookers and the police ignited riots and protests that continued over subsequent nights.There had been plenty of uprisings before Stonewall. In May 1959—a full decade before Stonewall—police attempted to arrest an agitated crowd of gay men, trans women, drag queens and male sex workers at the late-night coffee shop Cooper Do-nuts in Los Angeles, to which the crowd retaliated by pelting the police with coffee and doughnuts. Across the USA, there were sit-ins at various establishments, including Dewey’s Lunch Counter in Philadelphia in 1965 and the bar known as Julius’ in New York City in 1966. While these events were significant, what followed Stonewall may have contributed to its historical importance.In 1970, a year after the Stonewall uprising, a parade was organized to commemorate the anniversary. Originally named Christopher Street Liberation Day, after the street in New York City where the Stonewall Inn was located, the parade took place simultaneously with parallel demonstrations across the USA. Brenda Howard, the feminist bisexual rights activist who orchestrated this march, initially conceived the idea for a week-long series of celebrations around Pride Day. She is credited with popularising the term “Pride” to refer to these celebrations and is known by some as “The Mother of Pride”.

Pride Month and LGBTQIA2S+ Rights Today

Both LGBTQIA2S+ people’s experiences and Pride have undergone significant changes in the 50 years since the first Pride parades. In 2019, over 100,000 marchers participated in the New York City Pride March, with an estimated four million people watching. While there appears to be a substantial difference between Pride in 1969 and 2020, the struggle for LGBTQIA2S+ equality equality isn’t over. Even in countries where marriage equality is established, other LGBTQIA2S+ rights remain threatened, which emphasizes the ongoing importance of promoting the self-affirmation, dignity and equality of LGBTQIA2S+ individuals.

Trans rights have come under fire in the UK, where the government not only rejected gender recognition reform but also hinted at potentially rolling back healthcare for trans youth. In the USA, transgender people have experienced the revocation of healthcare protections. In Germany, non-binary individuals still lack legal recognition, and trans people who underwent mandatory sterilization to change their sex on identity documents before 2011 have not received compensation, in contrast to their Swedish counterparts, for example.

Mainstream Pride programming has often faced criticism for not being inclusive or welcoming to LGBTQIA2S+ Black and Indigenous people as well as other people of colour. While not all sex workers are LGBTQIA2S+, and not all LGBTQIA2S+ people are sex workers, sex worker rights and LGBTQIA2S+ rights go hand in hand. Both movements advocate against the infringement of bodily autonomy by the police and state. Many participants at Stonewall and in the uprisings that paved the way for Stonewall were themselves sex workers. Laws like the SESTA & FOSTA Acts of 2018 continue to jeopardize the safety of sex workers, including LGBTQIA2S+ sex workers. The need for Pride Month is far from over.

How To Celebrate Pride Month 2022

After a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pride Month can finally be celebrated to the fullest again. LGBTQIA2S+ events are happening everywhere, ranging from protests to parties. Queer energy is in the air! Pride Month can be celebrated by anyone wishing to raise awareness of the struggles faced by the community. While the choice of how to celebrate this historic month is personal, it’s essential to remember that standing up for LGBTQIA2S+ rights is always important. Everyone should contribute, as SO many injustices continue to occur worldwide.In Europe, one of the most renowned parades/parties is Christopher Street Day (CSD), with the largest celebration taking place in Berlin each year. This annual protest originated after an incident on June 28, 1969, when another police raid targeted the “Stonewall Inn”, located on Christopher Street. The increased resistance against the raids on this night led to protests that lasted several days, sparking a new movement of emancipation. By the end of July, the “Gay Liberation Front” was created, marking one of the first public fights for tolerance for the LGBTQIA2S+ community.Various calendars featuring different events and protests in your city can typically be found online. Check them out and decide which ones you’d like to participate in.


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