Pride Month: Making History with Pride
In 1924, the Society for Human Rights released the first American publication for the LGBTQIA+ community, Friendship, and Freedom, but due to political pressure, they were forced to disband soon after their founding. Fast Forward to 1969, and the battle is still being fought. It's disheartening to know that 45 years later, the display of "homosexual behavior" was considered to be breaking the law. During this time, the gay bars of New York were places of refuge where people of the LGBTQIA+ community could socialize in a relatively safe environment. Unfortunately, many of those bars were subject to regular police harassment. The Stonewall Inn was one such gathering place in Greenwich Village. During the early morning of June 28, 1969, nine police officers entered the Stonewall Inn and arrested the employees for not having a liquor license. Acting under New York's criminal statute at the time - they were also authorized to arrest anyone not wearing at least three articles of gender-appropriate clothing. The police officers cleared the bar and took numerous patrons of the establishment into custody, making this the third such raid on a gay bar in Greenwich Village in a brief amount of time.
This time the people loitering outside the bar did not run. Their anger was evident and expressed by throwing bottles and debris at the police officers as they watched bar patrons being loaded into police vehicles. The police officers called for backup and barricaded themselves inside the bar while around 400 people rioted. The barrier was repeatedly surmounted, and the bar was set on fire.
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Although there had been other demonstrations by gay groups, the Stonewall incident was, conceivably, the first time the LGBTQIA+ communities saw the value in joining behind a shared objective; the Stonewall riots became an electrifying force. To memorialize the events of Stonewall one year later, on June 28, 1970, gay activist groups in New York held their own pride parade, known as the Christopher Street Liberation Day.
The original gay pride flag was designed and created by Gilbert Baker, an openly gay activist, and was flaunted at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade celebration on June 25, 1978. The Pink Triangle was used as a symbol for the LGBT Movement before this pride, but it portrayed a dejected segment in the history of LGBTQIA+ rights. The Nazis created the Pink Triangle during World War II to identify and humiliate gays in the very way that the Star of David was used against the Jewish community. Harvey Milk -an American politician and the first openly gay elected official in the history of California- and others felt that it was time to retire the use of the Pink Triangle. Artie Bressan, a close friend of Baker's, pushed Baker for a new symbol, calling it "the dawn of a new gay consciousness and freedom." The gay pride flag is now seen as a cheerful, upbeat, optimistic, and instantly identifiable symbol of the LGBTQIA+ community and has caught on throughout the world.
Two U.S. presidents have officially declared a pride month. First, former President Bill Clinton declared June "Gay & Lesbian Pride Month" in 1999 and 2000, and President Barack Obama declared June LGBTQ Pride Month each year he was in office.
-"I call upon all Americans to observe this month (June) by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exists." – Proclamation 8529 by U.S President Barack Obama, May 28, 2010.
By: Jowanna's Corner
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