Pride Month – The History
“Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The Stonewall Uprising was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. In the United States the last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as “Gay Pride Day,” but the actual day was flexible. In major cities across the nation the “day” soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events. Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBTQ Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally
In 1994, a coalition of education-based organizations in the United States designated October as LGBT History Month. In 1995, a resolution passed by the General Assembly of the National Education Association included LGBT History Month within a list of commemorative months. National Coming Out Day (October 11), as well as the first “March on Washington” in 1979, are commemorated in the LGBTQ community during LGBT History Month.
Marsha P. Johnson (1945 – 1992) a prominent drag queen and an activist, a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front and later an AIDS activist with ACT UP. Johnson was one of the central figures in the 1992 Stonewall Uprising.
The first Pride march in New York City was held on June 28, 1970, on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising… This, the first U.S. Gay Pride Week and March, was meant to give the community a chance to gather together 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” (Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee Fliers, Franklin Kameny Papers). The concept behind the initial Pride march came from members of the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations (ERCHO), who had been organizing an annual July 4th demonstration (1965-1969) known as the “Reminder Day Pickets,” at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. At the ERCHO Conference in November 1969, the 13 homophile organizations in attendance voted to pass a resolution to organize a national annual demonstration, to be called Christopher Street Liberation Day.
By all estimates, there were three to five thousand marchers at the inaugural Pride in New York City, and today marchers in New York City number in the millions. Since 1970, LGBTQ+ people have continued to gather together in June to march with Pride and demonstrate for equal rights – from the Library of Congress website
The Rainbow Flag
“June has long been recognized as LGBTQ Pride Month, in honor of the Stonewall riots, which took place in New York City in June 1969. During Pride Month, it is not uncommon to see the rainbow flag being proudly displayed as a symbol for the LGBTQ rights movement. But how did that flag become a symbol of LGBTQ pride?
The first versions of the rainbow flag were flown on June 25, 1978, for the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day parade. Baker and a team of volunteers had made them by hand, and now he wanted to mass-produce the flag for consumption by all. However, because of production issues, the pink and turquoise stripes were removed and indigo was replaced by basic blue, which resulted in the contemporary six-striped flag (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet). Today this is the most common variant of the rainbow flag, with the red stripe on top, as in a natural rainbow. The various colors came to reflect both the immense diversity and the unity of the LGBTQ community.
It was not until 1994 that the rainbow flag was truly established as the symbol for LGBTQ pride. That year Baker made a mile-long version for the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Now the rainbow flag is an international symbol for LGBTQ pride and can be seen flying proudly, during both the promising times and the difficult ones, all around the world.” – from Brittanica.com
Pride Month Resources
- The Center for Black Equity – Building a global network of LGBTQ+ individuals, allies, community-based organizations and Prides dedicated to achieving equality and social justice for Black LGBTQ+ communities through Economic Equity, Health Equity, and Social Equity.
- National Archives News/ LGBTQ +Pride Month
- GLBT Historical Society Museum & Archives
- The Stonewall Oral History Project. Archives, the Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexual Community Center
- Between the Shades. Directed by Jill Salvino. Passion River Productions, 2017. Available on Kanopy here.
- Stonewall Uprising. Directed by David Heilbroner, Kate Davis. PBS, 2010. Available on Kanopy here.
- The Queen. Directed by Frank Simon. Kino Lorber, 1968. Available on Kanopy here.
- Rainbow warrior : my life in color / Gilbert Baker
- The gay revolution : the story of the struggle / Lillian Faderman
- When we rise : my life in the movement / Cleve Jones
- Tomorrow will be different : love, loss, and the fight for trans equality / Sarah McBride
- The Stonewall reader / The New York Public Library ; foreword by Edmund White ; edited with an introduction by Jason Baumann
- Giovanni’s room / James Baldwin
- The price of salt / Patricia Highsmith
- The great believers / Rebecca Makkai
- Detransition, baby : a novel / Torrey Peters
- The color purple / Alice Walker
- Memorial / Bryan Washington
- Pride : the story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag / written by Rob Sanders ; illustrated by Steven Salerno
- Stonewall : a building. an uprising. a revolution. / written by Rob Sanders ; illustrated by Jamey Christoph