Members of the gay community were once deemed a national security risk by the US government in 1953.
Every June, the LGBTQIA+ community comes together to celebrate love, diversity, acceptance, and to commemorate the struggle that paved the way and continues to pave way for the liberation of the community. While the Pride marches are a celebration, it also serves as a platform to raise voices against the oppression of the community. Pride month is an effort to recognize the efforts of advocates, members of the community, and its allies' fights for the rights of the community, in America and around the world, according to the Library of Congress.
Stone Wall Riots
The month of June was selected as the Pride Month to commemorate the riots at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar, in New York City, reported ABC News. After vicious crackdowns on the community in the previous decades, they fought back, for the first time, against the cops in 1969. As the cops raided the bar and got everyone out, people started throwing pennies at them, followed by bricks, forcing cops to shut themselves inside the bar. "It was so exciting. It was like, “Wow, we’re doing it! We’re doing it!” We’re f*cking their nerves," said Sylvia Rivera, a transgender activist, who was one of the forces behind the Pride march and movement along with Marsha P Johnson, another transgender activist, reported The Guardian. "They thought that they could come in and say, 'All right, you get out,' and nothing was going to happen." The police retaliated strongly, resulting in a riot on June 28, 1969. "It was inhumane, senseless bullshit," said Rivera. The Stonewall Inn was designated by President Obama as a national monument.
History of the Pride Month
The Stonewall riots proved to be the "tipping point" for the gay liberation movement in the United States, according to the Library of Congress. It proved the catalyst for change in the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights, years after the US government deemed the gay community a national security threat. An executive order signed by Dwight D Eisenhower on 27 April 1953 listed the gay community as a security risk and was effectively banned from working for any federal government. The stance changed with time, as US President including Bill Clinton and Barack Obama officially declared June as Pride Month.
The First Pride March
The first Pride march took place in New York City on June 28, 1970, and a march for gay rights. A small group of people from the community gathered in a small area of Christopher Street in New York City’s West Village. During that time, it was one of the rare neighborhoods where people could meet in public. The participants of the Pride marches were often subject to taunts. Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were the pioneers behind the march. Photographer Stanley Stellar recalled the initial days of the marches. "When people would taunt us, cars would drive by and spit at us, yell at us constantly, Marsha would be there, looking outrageous and glorious in her own aesthetic, and she would say ‘pay them no mind.’ That’s what the ‘P’ is for, is ‘pay them no mind, don’t let them stop us,’” said Stellar, reported Time.
Reclaiming the Pink triangle
One of the first symbols of gay pride was a pink triangle. The symbol was originally used by the Nazis to identify gay men in concentration camps. The gay community started to use the pink triangle in the 1970s as a way of reclaiming the trauma inflicted on them, partly influenced by the memoir of a prisoner and pink triangle wearer, according to Holocaust learning.
The movement adopted the rainbow flag to represent the community. The flag became an intrinsic part of the movement and the community and is displayed prominently throughout the month. The flag was designed by Gilbert Baker, an American artist, gay rights activist, and a US Army veteran. He designed the flag at the suggestion of his friends, including Harvey Milk, a San Francisco city supervisor and the first openly gay elected official in California. According to Baker's website, the colors of the LGBTQIA+ flag each have a meaning: red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, blue for harmony, and violet for spirit. One of the major victories for the community came about when the US government ruled on June 26, 2015, that same-sex couples could get married.
LBGT Pride month events will be limited across the world this year on account of the pandemic. Many events have been planned, both on and offline, across the nation including pride parades, marches, parties, concerts, workshops, and symposiums. There will also be memorials held to honor members of the LGBTQIA+ community who have lost their lives to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS.
Some of the events organized for Pride month:
- Boston Pride will host a series of virtual events throughout the month, including the raising of the rainbow pride flag on June 4 at noon.
- The Pride Parade will not be held, Los Angeles announced its first in-person Pride event will take place on LGBTQ+ Night at the Dodgers game on June 11.
- The New York City Pride Rally will take place virtually on June 25, while the Pride March, normally the biggest in the nation, will also take place virtually on June 27.
- Chicago Pride will hold its annual parade in October, once restrictions further ease.
- Seattle Pride will hold a series of virtual events on June 26 and 27, including concerts, performances, and panels.