Although we still have a long way to go as a society in terms of equality, Pride Month is a time to celebrate LGBTQ communities and their historical accomplishments. The progress we’ve made as a society is a direct result of the tireless activism of LGBTQ+ groups and allies. Thus, the historical movements of liberation that define Pride Month must not be forgotten.
Here are 8 incredible historical moments in LGBTQ history to celebrate this Pride Month.
The Stonewall riots
The modern LGBTQ+ rights movement goes back to Stonewall in 1969.
The Stonewall Inn was a popular Mafia-run gay bar in Greenwich Village. Then, the police raided the bar on June 28 of that year, as they did not have a liquor license. Police began arresting people and using excessive violence. The crowd resisted, and a rebellion thus ensued for six days.
Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans woman and drag queen, was a key leader during the protests and riots. Following Stonewall, she founded the Gay Liberation Front and the group Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R.) with Sylvia Rivera.
The events at Stonewall and activists such as Marsha P. Johnson sparked newfound energy in the movement for LGBTQ+ rights.
Christopher Street Liberation Day
On the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots, people marched through the streets of NYC. This march then became known as Christopher Street Liberation Day, and it is often regarded as the first Gay Pride parade.
According to NBC News, Craig Rodwell, Fred Sargeant, Linda Rhodes, and Ellen Broidy introduced the idea for the march. They proposed that it would be a great way to commemorate the anniversary of Stonewall on June 28, 1970.
The New York Times reported that the march started with only a few hundred people down by the Stonewall Inn, but by the time they reached Central Park, there were thousands of people in the crowd.
These activists would be proud to see the millions of people who participate in Pride parades today. Pride Month has a robust history of the LGBTQ community that must be remembered.
The creation of the pride flag
The Pride flag first made an appearance in San Francisco for Gay Pride Day on June 25, 1978. Gilbert Baker designed the original flag with eight colors.
As reported by Jacopo Prisco on CNN, Baker “assigned a meaning to each of the colors: hot pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for magic, blue for harmony and violet for spirit.”
In his interview with CNN, Baker explained his rationale behind the flag design.
We needed something to express our joy, our beauty, our power. And the rainbow did that.Gilbert Baker
Eventually, pink and turquoise were removed from the flag to make it easier to mass-produce. Then, in 2018, white, pink, and light blue were added to include the transgender flag, and brown and black stripes were added to represent people of color.
The Pride flag and all its versions have come to represent what Baker intended—the joy, beauty, and power of the LGBTQ+.
The foundation of Black Pride
Black Pride was first organized in 1991 by Welmore Cook, Ernest Hopkins, and Theodore Kirkland. The historical Pride Month moment was meant to celebrate Black LGBTQ+ identities and fight for liberation.
Like Christopher Street Liberation Day, the first Black Pride still started small. But now, Black Pride in DC attracts thousands of people annually over Memorial Day weekend, while many other Black Pride celebrations take place across the US.
The work of these three activists (and many others) to acknowledge and celebrate intersectional identities is important. Identity groups such as Black LGBTQ+ have unique experiences with oppression and empowerment in our society, so they should get to celebrate Black Pride their way.
International Transgender Day of Visibility
Activist Rachel Crandall started International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, 2009. She created this holiday to celebrate transgender and gender nonconforming individuals and their accomplishments.
As with Black Pride, International Transgender Day of Visibility provides a space for individuals to share and also celebrate their unique experiences. Pride month celebrates the LGBTQ+, but groups within the LGBTQ+ still deserve to celebrate their distinctive identities, struggles, and triumphs.
‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ revoked
In 2011, President Obama annulled the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military. This reversal allowed openly gay people to enlist in the US military.
Obama’s initiative was a particularly big step, as gay people were explicitly allowed to enter a traditionally masculine and patriotic space where they were historically unwelcome.
Same-sex marriage a constitutional right
On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court officially ruled same-sex marriage to be a constitutional right in Obergefell v. Hodges. The LGBTQ+ had been achieving small victories for marriage equality across certain states for years prior, but same-sex marriage was not legal everywhere in the US until 2015.
Fitting that the ruling was during Pride month, millions of people participated in Pride marches across the US to celebrate this win for equity and marriage equality.
Stonewall National Monument
Stonewall and its influence on the current LGBTQ+ rights movement continue to resonate.
The Stonewall National Monument was put up on June 27, 2016, around the 47th anniversary of the riots. It is the first monument in the US devoted to LGBTQ+ rights and history.
If you would like to visit, you can find the Stonewall National Monument in Greenwich Village near Christopher Park.
Progress still to be Made
These eight events in LGBTQ+ history were key moments for our societal progress.
As our country continues to creep out of a sexist, racist, homophobic history and out of the pandemic, we need to think about how we can accelerate this progress. We have come a long way, but we have a long way to go.