In June we celebrate Pride month, where we celebrate the LGBTQIA+ communities, amplify their voices and experiences, and acknowledge that there is still a great deal of work to be done in order for everyone to live free of discrimination, and afforded dignity and respect.
While Pride month has its origins in struggle, it has become a celebration of life and love. The brutal police raid on the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in New York City culminated in an uprising on June 28, 1969. At that time, a host of draconian laws prohibited people from selling alcohol to non-straight individuals, so gay bars were largely run by the maffia who didn’t care about the well-being of their clientele, as long as they turned a profit. It was illegal to wear more than 3 items of clothing that didn’t conform to contemporary modes of gender expression, so drag queens and transgender individuals were easy targets for police. Their bravery in raising their voices at such high risk to themselves is worth honoring and remembering.
On the one year anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the first pride parade was organized in New York City by Lili Vincenz, Frank Kameny, and many other activists. Over the years Pride marches, festivals, and celebrations have grown in size and number across the country, as support and awareness has grown.
If you are interested in learning more about the origins of Pride month, including some wonderful documentary footage of the first Pride parade in New York City, we invite you to visit the Library of Congress’ website here.
In 2016, President Obama issued a proclamation declaring the Stonewall Inn a National Monument. Today it is protected as a National Historic Landmark by the Parks Service, and is open to the public. You can read President Obama’s moving words, and learn more about the Stonewall monument on the Parks Service website here.
(Image from National Parks Services: nps.gov)
We hope you will spend some time this June to learn from the LGBTQIA+ communities, celebrate their achievements, affirm their identities, and create safe spaces in our neighborhoods, workplaces and schools. Contemplate donating to local organizations that support LGBTQIA+ youth, or national organizations such as the Trevor Project that accomplishes such important, life-saving work. You can visit the Trevor Project here.
Happy Pride Month!