Pride Month is a month dedicated to uplifting LGBTQ+ voices, celebrating LGBTQ+ culture, and the support of LGBTQ+ rights. Throughout June, there have traditionally been parades, protests, drag performances, live theater, and memorials and celebrations of life for community members who lost their lives to HIV/AIDS or hate crimes. It is part political activism, part celebration of all the LGBTQ+ community has achieved over the years.
How It Started
Before Pride became a celebration, it started as a protest. At the time, homosexual acts were deemed illegal in almost every state, and bars and restaurants faced getting shut down for having gay employees or serving gay patrons. While police had raided gay establishments before, on one particular day, members of the LGBTQ+ community decided to fight back, sparking an uprising that would launch a new era of resistance that would later become a celebration.
June 28, 1969, marks the start of the Stonewall riots in which the queer community responded to a police raid that began at the Stonewall Inn, a bar in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York, that served as a haven for the LGBTQ+ community. As hundreds of people, including activist Marsha P. Johnson resisted arrest and fought against police oppression. Rioters broke windows, set cars on fire, and injured three police officers. The police ended up barricading themselves inside the Stonewall Inn.
The Very First Pride
The first Pride march in New York City was held on June 28, 1970, on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. Primary sources available at the Library of Congress provide detailed information about how this first Pride march was planned and the reasons why activists felt so strongly that it should exist.
This, the first U.S. Gay Pride Week and March, was meant to give the community a chance to gather together to commemorate the Christopher Street Uprisings, in which thousands of homosexuals went to the streets to demonstrate against centuries of abuse from all sectors.
LGBTQ+ Pride Today
Since 1970, LGBTQ+ people have continued to gather together in June to march with Pride and demonstrate equal rights. Today, celebrations include parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia, and concerts, and LGBTQ Pride Month events attract millions of participants worldwide. In addition, memorials are held for members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS.
The reason for the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that LGBTQ+ individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.