Celebrating With Pride
June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month in the United States. The history of Pride celebrations began fifty-three years ago on June 28, 1969 in New York City during the Stonewall Uprising.
The Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in the Greenich Village neighborhood of lower Manhattan was one of the most popular gay bars in the city at the time. Right up until 1966, it was illegal to serve alcohol to a homosexual person, and in 1969 homosexuality was itself considered a criminal offense. Because of this, many gay bars all over the city operated without liquor licenses. This made them targets of frequent police raids, and often, harassment and brutality. Police would often raid several gay bars a night, confiscating the liquor, demanding identification from patrons, and placing many, if not most of them, under arrest for generalized offenses such as “disorderly conduct”.
In the early hours of June 28, 1969, police descended upon the Stonewall Inn, search warrant in hand, to investigate the illegal serving of alcohol. What made this particular raid different was that instead of succumbing to arrest, the patrons of the bar and of the gay community as a whole fought back, not only that morning but for days afterwards. Thousands of people took to the streets following the raid, organizing and protesting at the Stonewall and surrounding area to condemn the treatment of and brutality against members of the LGBTQ+ community. Often mischaracterized as the Stonewall “riots”, participants involved in the uprising and eyewitnesses say it was never a riot; it was a rebellion against the unfair treatment of members of the gay community.
A year later, on June 28, 1970, the first ever Pride march was organized by the Christopher Street Liberation Committee and took place on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. The committee’s goal was to “commemorate the Christopher Street Uprisings of last summer in which thousands of homosexuals went to the streets to demonstrate against centuries of abuse…….from government hostility to employment and housing discrimination, Mafia control of Gay bars, and anti-homosexual laws.”
Ten years later, on Oct. 13, 1979, the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights was held in D.C. Then on June 2, 2000, President Bill Clinton issued Proclamation No. 7316 for Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, and on June 1, 2009, President Barack Obama issued Proclamation No. 8387 for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.
We continue to celebrate Pride month every June not only to commemorate the events of the Stonewall Uprising, but also to recognize the contributions, achievements, and impact of the LGBTQ+ community. We also recognize and honor their struggles, sacrifices, and continuing fight for true equality.