Though Gay Pride celebrations, like the record-breaking event in Sao Paulo, have already begun, June 1 marks the start of many US events aimed at fostering acceptance and tolerance across the nation. At a time when a major presidential candidate threatens to overturn the Supreme Court decision that gave us the right to marry and at a time when transgender rights are being challenged in the ugliest of ways, it’s clear to see why we need Pride month. For those of us who live in major cities like New York, an epic Gay Pride parade may feel like a natural occurrence and an irrevocable privilege. But it wasn’t always this way.
Beginning in 1965, protestors joined together to picket at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on the Fourth of July. The demonstrations were called Annual Reminders and were created to remind the public that LGBT people were not afforded the same rights as other citizens.
The first parade began amidst an environment of fear and intense homophobia. The “Christopher Street Gay Liberation March” took place in June 1970. It was a commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Those riots took place after police raided popular gay Greenwich Village bar Stonewall Inn. That raid brought the gay civil rights movement to national headlines and spurred a weeklong violent clash between New York’s gay youth and the city’s police force.
Despite the now national awareness of the mistreatment of gays, many participants in the Liberation March feared the worst of what could happen. Homophobia was still accepted throughout society, and in fear of being stopped, the group had no plans for the March’s end in Central Park. The organizers and attendees simply hadn’t expected to make it to the end. To their surprise, thousands of people joined the March as the group charged through the streets of Manhattan, and the first-ever Gay Pride parade was a success.
By the 80s, most major American cities were holding their own parades. Also, New York began hosting a second march in 1993 on the eve of the major Pride March-the Annual New York Dyke March. And soon, the tradition spread globally to cities like Nepal, Moscow, and Tel Aviv. But it wasn’t until President Obama’s administration that June was officially declared LGBT Pride Month.
While the current campaign cycle is a stark reminder that we still have a long way to go for equality for all, it’s clear that we’ve made significant progress. LGBT Pride Month is one that we can celebrate with joy and excitement for all that’s happened for the community in recent years. Wherever you plan to celebrate, there’s surely a Pride March or party taking place. For a comprehensive list of nationwide Gay Pride events, head to Fagabond.
Of the most notable celebrations across the US, Brooklyn Pride takes place June 5-11, New Orleans Pride is June 17-19, and the Big Apple’s Pride events kick off June 21. But even in Omaha, Nebraska, you can wave your rainbow flag at Heartland Pride. The wide variety of events is a beautiful indication of the progress we’ve achieved and what’s still to come.