The Real Story of LGBT Pride Month

Pride Month is more than a colorful parade or a series of parties (although they are beautiful too) – it is a commemoration of the people who came before us and made these celebrations possible.

Why Pride in June?

If you’ve ever wondered why Pride is taking place in June, it’s pretty simple: Pride, which has grown into a global phenomenon in recent years, owes its roots to waterways and a haven for the LGBT community, which, on a pivotal summer night, was the site of the Stonewall uprising. The riots took place in the early morning of June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, an event that many historians now consider to be a turning point for the LGBTQ movement (although many LGBTQ communities in other major cities have already started organizing this time around).

Before the riots, the Stonewall Hotel was a refuge for the 60s LGBT community. It was then a nightclub with no running water, drinks were made with rumored stolen alcohol, and patrons were required to sign a guestbook to give Stonewall a look of “exclusivity,” although many used pseudonyms. The owners of the Stonewall Inn even lured away from their wealthy customers, threatening to ” kick ” them out, which soon became a more lucrative business than serving drinks.

Police raids were also common during this time. Officers frequently harassed, arrested, and discriminated against bar patrons. This was indicative of the broader social climate of the time, especially in New York State , where legislation was enacted to revoke licenses to sell liquor in any bar serving LGBTQ customers. However, Stonewall did not give in to a fight: like many gay bars in Greenwich Village, Stonewall was owned by the Genovese crime family , which, when the law prohibited others, sought to profit by serving the LGBT community.

To prevent the impact of frequent raids, the owners of Stonewall made a secret deal with the police, exchanging cash for tips for upcoming raids; Police also turned a blind eye to the bar’s lack of a liquor license – a sign of legitimacy that was usually not given to bars serving LGBTQ clientele. (Stonewall operated like an “open bottle bar,” which meant that customers technically had to bring their hut.)

What was the uprising of the Stone Wall?

In the early morning of June 28, the police carried out another raid on the bar. The events of that night are mostly a mystery made up of various personal stories, and you’ve probably read conflicting facts about exactly how the riots started. According to a 1989 interview with Sylvia Rivera , a transgender activist who was in Stonewall that night, it started like any other raid.

“The police came in,” Rivera said. “They came, as usual, to receive their award. They came in, locked the damn door … This is what we learned to live with at that time. We had to live with it. We had to live with it until that day. “

According to History’s retelling , it was a typical harassment, with New York City police arrested 13 people, “including employees and people violating state gender dressing law (female officers took the dressing suspects to the bathroom to check their gender). “

However, on that June night, the bar’s patrons fought back, and a crowd formed at the Stone Wall, throwing cans, bricks and other objects at the police, who were forced to return to the bar for protection. Many sources cite transgender activists Marsha P. Johnson and Rivera among the early rebellions. (Johnson later said that she joined the riots when they started. However, according to many personal reports, she played an important role.)

What is pride today?

In the months following the uprising, at least four different LGBT organizations formed in solidarity, including the Gay Liberation Front, the Alliance of Gay Activists, Radical Lesbians, and the Transvestite Street Revolutionaries (formed by Johnson and Rivera). It was hardly the first: the first gay rights organization in the country’s history, the Human Rights Society, was formed in 1924, and just four years before Stonewall, Philadelphia hosted the first American gay rights march, which brought together about 40 LGBTQ activists. in Philadelphia near Independence Hall on July 4, 1965.

Exactly one year after the riots, the Gay Liberation Front organized the first Liberation Day march on Christopher Street (later known as the Gay Pride March) along the street where the Stonewall Inn is located. Shortly thereafter, similar marches took place in cities around the world, leading to the events of Pride Month as we know them today. However, Pride has not been officially recognized as such for over 30 years; former President Bill Clinton eventually declared June 1999 Lesbian and Gay Month. Former President Barack Obama expanded the moniker to become more inclusive in 2009, declaring LGBT Pride Month.

By 2016, Obama had declared the Stonewall Inn a National Monument. “The Stone Wall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights,” he said in a statement . “I believe that our national parks should reflect our country’s entire history, wealth and diversity, as well as the unique American spirit that has always distinguished us.”

In recent years, the pivotal role of people of color and transgender people during the riots, including DeLarvery, Johnson and Rivera, have come to the fore in the conversation, altering some of the embellished, cisgender tales of what happened. night.

Today, what was once a one-day parade has evolved into a month-long series of prides around the world. Today, pride has become the main focus of large corporations, showing solidarity in the form of sponsorship, albeit sometimes with a bit of cynicism. Many cities also have memorials to commemorate the LGBTQ AIDS / HIV deaths.

How to celebrate Pride

If you want to find events around you, you should do an online search for local events or Pride organizations and remember to honor the memory of those figures who paved the way for LGBTQ everywhere; one way to do this is to support LGBTQ interests, such as the Sylvia Rivera Law Project , which aims to empower and provide legal resources to low-income and people of color who are transgender, intersex, or gender non-conforming. Pride is a time for hard-earned celebration, but it is also a time to reflect on the work of those before us and strategize how far we have to go.

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