In the United States, June is celebrated as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQIA+) Pride Month, with Pride parades feted all over the world throughout the month. The June celebration commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, NYC, which was the tipping point for the Gay Pride Movement in the United States.
The Stonewall Inn was a popular gay bar in New York City, that, like many gay bars in NYC, was also mafia-owned. Until 1966, it was illegal for bars to serve alcohol to non-heterosexual people. In 1969, homosexuality was still considered a criminal offense. In 1969, in 1969, New York Penal Code 240.35, Subsection 4 stated that it was illegal to wear fewer than three items of “gender-inappropriate” clothing.
Since many gay establishments operated without liquor licenses, the establishments and their patrons were more vulnerable to police raids and brutality. Patrons and clientele were often harassed and arrested. Individuals that wore opposite-gendered clothing were even easier targets for the police. When plainclothes police went to raid the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, they were met with resistance by the patrons, which included drag queens, gay, lesbian, queer, transgender, and gender non-conforming people.
The first U.S. Gay Pride Week and March was held on June 28, 1970 in NYC. Organized by the Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee, was named after the six-day long Christopher Street Uprising of 1969, also known as the Stonewall Uprising. The Gay Pride Week and March was a demonstration against centuries of abuse against the community, the criminalization of non-heteronormative behaviors, employment discrimination, housing discrimination, and Mafia control of gay bars. The month-long celebration also recognizes the significant impact and valuable contributions that LGBTQ+ individuals have made locally, nationally, and internationally throughout history. The month is also the opportunity for the everyone to reaffirm their commitment to stand in solidarity with LGBTQ+ people in their ongoing struggle against discrimination and injustice. (Biden, 2021)
Today, worldwide celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBT Pride Month events that attract millions of participants. Memorials are held for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. Additionally, Pride Month has been a catalyst for both social and legal change. Federal and local policies and practices are increasingly acknowledging, supporting, and focusing on the LGBTQ community. There is increasing acceptance and support for all youth, including those who are or are perceived to be LGBTQ.
While writing and researching this article, I asked some of my LGBTQIA+ friends the impromptu question “What does Pride Month mean to you?” The responses varied but featured the common theme of authenticity. For many individuals, Pride Month is a celebration of people’s authentic selves, identities, and lives. This response is especially poignant, as many of my friends grew up in families, communities, and environments didn’t support them nor their identities. This Pride Month, everyone is encouraged to support local Pride events and stand as allies for the LGBTQ+ community.
Written by: Emily Kawasaki
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- Biden, J. (2021, June 1). A Proclamation on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Pride Month, 2021. The White House. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/06/01/a-proclamation-on-lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-and-queer-pride-month-2021/
- National Park Service (n.d). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride) -- National Register of Historic Places Official Website--Part of the National Park Service. National Park Service. Retrieved June 10, 2021, from https://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/LGBT/index.htm
- Library of Congress. (n.d.). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month. The Library of Congress. Retrieved June 10, 2021, from https://www.loc.gov/lgbt-pride-month/
- Library of Congress. (n.d.). Today in History - June 28. The Library of Congress. Retrieved June 10, 2021, from https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/june-28/