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Pride Month 2024: A Celebration of the Road to Liberation

A white banner with rainbow square and the phrase "Love is Love" inscribed in white lettering
Pride 2024: Love is Love

The term "Pride" in relation to LGBTQIA+ celebrations and events has its roots in the Stonewall Uprising of 1969. On June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in New York City's Greenwich Village. This raid sparked a series of spontaneous demonstrations by members of the LGBTQIA+ community against the discriminatory laws and practices that targeted them.


These demonstrations, known as the Stonewall Riots, lasted for several days and marked a turning point in the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights in the United States. The riots also served as a catalyst for the formation of various activist groups and the organization of the first Gay Pride marches.


Why was Stonewall Raided?

The police raid on the Stonewall Inn was part of a larger pattern of harassment and discrimination against LGBTQIA+ individuals and establishments by law enforcement during that time.


In the 1960s, many U.S. states had laws that criminalized homosexuality and cross-dressing. New York City had laws that prohibited serving alcohol to known or suspected gay individuals, as well as laws requiring individuals to wear at least three articles of gender-appropriate clothing. These laws were often used to justify police raids on gay bars and clubs.


The Stonewall Inn was known to be a popular gathering place for LGBTQ+ people, particularly those who were most marginalized. It was owned by the Mafia, who paid off police to avoid raids. However, the police still conducted occasional raids to assert their authority and to enforce the discriminatory laws of the time.


On the night of June 28, 1969, the police conducted a raid on the Stonewall Inn, claiming that the bar was operating without a proper liquor license. They arrested employees and patrons of the bar, and they became increasingly violent as they began arresting individuals who were violating the gender-appropriate clothing statute.


Pride has Roots as an Uprising in the Face of Discrimination and Harassment

This raid, however, did not go as planned. Instead of dispersing quietly, the patrons of the Stonewall Inn, along with other members of the community, began to protest and fight back against the police. The resistance turned into a multi-day uprising against the discriminatory laws and practices that targeted LGBTQIA+ individuals.


Immediately after the raid, the Stonewall Inn closed. However, it reopened within a few weeks and continued to serve as a gathering place for the community. The bar itself became a symbol of resistance and pride. As for the individuals arrested during the raid, most were released within a few hours. However, some were held for longer periods and faced more serious charges.


The events at Stonewall galvanized the LGBTQIA+ community in New York City and beyond. Many new activist organizations formed, including the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA). These groups organized protests, marches, and other actions to demand an end to the discriminatory laws and practices that targeted LGBTQIA+ people.


1970 Was the Year of the First Gay Pride Marches

A year after the Stonewall Uprising, on June 28, 1970, the first Gay Pride marches were held in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago to commemorate the anniversary of the riots. These marches marked the beginning of what would become the annual Pride celebrations that now take place around the world.


Over the following decades, the LGBTQIA+ rights movement made significant strides, including the declassification of homosexuality as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association in 1973, the passage of anti-discrimination laws in many states and cities, and eventually, the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States in 2015.


While there was no immediate, dramatic change in the legal or social status of LGBTQIA+ people in the direct aftermath of Stonewall, the uprising is widely considered a catalyst for the modern LGBTQIA+ rights movement and a turning point in the fight for equality.


The Origins of the Term Pride

The term "Pride" was first associated with LGBTQIA+ events and celebrations in the early 1970s, in the aftermath of the Stonewall Uprising. While there is no single individual credited with coining the term, it emerged organically from within the community to counter the prevailing attitudes of shame and social stigma.


One of the earliest documented uses of the term "Pride" in this context was by gay activist L. Craig Schoonmaker. He stated that when discussing the 1970 Christopher Street Liberation Day March with his fellow organizers, "I said, 'What we should be doing is celebrating ourselves and asserting our pride, our self-respect, and our identities.' And somebody else in the room said, 'Yeah, it should be 'Gay Pride.'' And that's how the term was born."


The term "Gay Pride" was then used to describe the 1970 march, which is considered one of the first Pride events. Over time, the term "Pride" became more widely adopted by the LGBTQIA+ community and was used to describe the growing number of events and celebrations that emerged in cities around the United States.


Today, Pride events are held in numerous countries, often in June to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising, but also throughout the year. The term "Pride" is now broadly used to represent the celebration of LGBTQIA+ identities.

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