June is Pride Month. A celebration of freedom, expression, visibility and community that brings the world’s LGBT communities together from all corners of the world.
Pride gatherings stem from the onerous past of minority groups who have faced discrimination, prejudice and unprecedented hate. Pride is a home for those who choose to smile in the face of adversity, and through freedom of expression people from all walks of life are given the opportunity to feel accepted for who they are.
Who Celebrates Pride?
Pride events are catered towards anyone who feels like their sexual identity lies outside of the norm. Although straight people are welcomed with open arms too, there really is no limit to inclusivity.
LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and is an acronym for those commonly associated with Pride festivals. This term can even be extended to LGBTQ and LGBTQIA, which includes queer, intersex and asexual groups.
So How Did Pride Start?
Muffled music pounded through the brick and mortar of the Stonewall Inn – a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village – in the early hours of June 28, 1969. Of all things, it was the police task force that raided the bar that night that ignited the flame to fire up the Pride events we see today.
After years of unrest amongst the community and discrimination from law enforcement, the gay community decided enough was enough. That night, tensions flared quickly. Patrons fought back by throwing bottles and coins at the officers, arrests were resisted and a full-scale riot broke out into the New York neighbourhood over the next three days.
This uprising became a catalyst for a brewing gay rights movement as organisations such as the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance came to fruition. These movements took inspiration from the civil rights movement and the women’s rights movement. Protests were held, political leaders became involved and public meetings were halted in order to hold certain politicians accountable.
A year later, the first Gay Pride marches took place.
The Stonewall inn remains a national monument to this day.
The Origin of the Name Pride
Brenda Howard, a bisexual New York activist – given the nickname ‘Mother of Pride’ – is credited as the first organiser of Pride. The event was held one year after the uprising in Greenwich Village to commemorate the events that transpired in 1969.
The Rainbow Flag
In 1978, a designer by the name of Gilbert Baker was commissioned by San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk to make a flag for the city’s Pride celebrations. Might I add, Milk was one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States.
Baker took inspiration from the stripes of the star-spangled banner. But, instead of the traditional blue and white; Baker chose to harness the colours of the rainbow to represent the many groups within the gay community.
Today, we have a variety of flags that represent different sexualities within the community, such as bisexual, asexual and pansexual.
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