Pride Month: How It Started and How to Celebrate
Taking place every June, Pride Month celebrates the self-affirmation, dignity, equality and increased visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The month-long celebration was given the name "Pride" to encourage those feelings as the community comes together to celebrate and bolster LGBTQ+ rights movements. As people rally together, ET has put together a guide to all things Pride, including a brief history, how to celebrate and support.
How It Started
Before Pride become a celebration, it started out as a protest. 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 located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York, that served as a safe haven for the city’s gay, lesbian and transgender community.
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 that particular night, members of the LGBTQ community decided to fight back, sparking an uprising that would launch a new era of resistance that would later turn to celebration.
Mark Segal was one of the many LGBTQ people outside Stonewall Inn, where a stand was being taken against the latest police raid of one of the community’s few safe spaces to gather in New York City. Transgender woman and activist Marsha P. Johnson picked up the first brick thrown in rage, kicking off the modern LGBTQ rights movement.
“That night in June of 1969, we felt rage at the police,” Segal told ET’s Denny Directo, as Pride has become a stark reminder that these modern-day celebrations once started as a protest.
“We were enraged because, in a sense, 2,000 years of repression built up in us. And the New York City Police Department that night, when they violently came into Stonewall and beat people up against the wall and extorted money from people, got us angry,” Segal continued.
“And it was that night that we said to the police, ‘We are taking our street back. This is our neighborhood. You are no longer going to control us. You’re no longer going to dominate us. We’re going to create our identity. We’re going to create a community where you wouldn’t allow us to have community,’” Segal said.
History of Pride in the United States
On June 28, 1970, on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the first Pride parade set off from Stonewall. Gay activists in New York organized the Christopher Street Liberation March to cap off the city’s first Pride Week. Several hundred people started marching up 6th Avenue, toward Central Park. The parade eventually stretched 15 city blocks and encompassed thousands of supporters.
Celebrations Across the Country
Activists in other cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago, organized Pride celebrations that same year, celebrations that would continue through today.
Origins of the Rainbow Flag
The rainbow flag was popularized as a symbol of the gay community by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker in 1978. The different colors are often associated with "diversity" in the gay community, but actually have literal meanings. Hot pink, before it was removed, stood for sex; red means life; orange means healing; yellow means sunlight; green means nature; turquoise means magic and art; indigo (later changed to royal blue) means serenity; and violet means spirit. There are several other flags in the LGBTQ+ community, including the transgender flag, pansexual flag and more.
How to Celebrate
With much of the country starting to reopen after the pandemic brought things to a standstill there is host of in-person events taking place.
After a month-long celebration with various events, New York will host its annual NYC Pride March on Sunday, June 26. Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Key West, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Portland, Provincetown, San Francisco and Seattle are just some of the major cities holding Pride Month events throughout the month of June.
Several calendar days of note bring awareness to the month and important historical milestones in LGBTQ+ history, including HIV Long-Term Survivors Day on June 5, which honors and increases visibility around HIV survivor issues and needs, Pulse Remembrance Day on June 12, a remembrance of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting victims, National HIV Testing Day on June 27 which encourages individuals to be tested for HIV, and Queer Youth of Faith Day on June 30, to celebrate and empower LGBTQ youth of different faiths.
The Stonewall Riots Anniversary on June 28 is also important to note in commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Uprising. In honor of that monumental day, Kesha will be taking the stage in front of the Stonewall Inn in New York City for a special performance, June 24, to mark Pride Month and Stonewall Day 2022.
Along with Kesha, the event will feature performances from Betty, Mila Jam, and Shea Diamond, as well as choreography by Stonewall Day creative director Kellen Stancil. Appearing throughout the event via video message will be an array of supporters including Barack Obama, Rufus Wainwright, Adam Lambert, Billy Porter, Conchita Wurst, Tom Daley, Chelsea Clinton, and Dustin Lance Black.
What to Watch
Set in the world of the groundbreaking movie, Love, Simon, about a closeted gay teenager who is forced to come out after being blackmailed, Victor, who, like Simon, is on his own journey of self-discovery. Facing challenges at home, navigating the ups and downs of a new high school and exploring his sexual orientation, Victor reaches out to Simon when things become too difficult.
A young African American man grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence and burgeoning adulthood.
This biographical drama tells the story of Harvey Milk and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California's first openly gay elected official.
Books to Read
A rich and sweeping photographic history of the Queer Liberation Movement, from the creators and curators of the massively popular Instagram account @lgbt_history, released in time for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
James Baldwin’s groundbreaking novel about love and the fear of love, set among the bohemian bars and nightclubs of 1950s Paris. With sharp, probing insight, Giovanni’s Room tells an impassioned, deeply moving story that lays bare the unspoken complexities of the human heart.
Fairest is a memoir about a precocious boy with albinism, a “sun child” from a rural Philippine village, who would grow up to become a woman in America. Throughout her journey, Talusan shares poignant and powerful episodes of desirability and love that will remind readers of works such as Call Me by Your Name and Giovanni’s Room. Her evocative reflections shift our own perceptions of love, identity, gender, and the fairness of life.
How to Support
Where to Donate
The Equality Federation is the movement builder and strategic partner to state-based organizations advocating for LGBTQ people. From Equality Florida to Freedom Oklahoma to Basic Rights Oregon, the Equity Federation amplifies the power of the state-based LGBTQ movement.
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people under 25.
The Transgender Law Center is the largest national trans-led organization advocating self-determination for all people. They are a multi-disciplinary organization that uses litigation, policy advocacy, education, movement building, and direct service to meet the needs of transgender communities.
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