If you have never been to a Pride parade, you are missing out. Every June, cities across the globe join together in a series of festivities to celebrate their LGBTQ+ community and how far their love has taken them. Rainbow colored flags flap cheerfully, intricate costumes and colorful cultural garments are donned, pop anthems ring through the streets, and the atmosphere radiates positivity. There is something about the month of June that makes you feel like anything is possible and life deserves to be celebrated. Fifty years ago, a group of queer advocates let that same feeling inspire them to take a stand and setup a cultural revolution.
It was June 1970 when 5,000 marchers gathered at Washington Square Park for the first ever Pride March. A year prior, it was more of a protest. Through the 1960’s, the American Psychiatric Association still deemed homosexuality a psychiatric disorder and widespread discrimination was still common.
When police raided West Village’s Stonewall Inn in the early morning of June 28, 1969, tensions quickly escalated to riots. Although gay bars were accustomed to police raids during that time, gay men, lesbians and transgender people recognized that it was time for change. They organized into protest groups to demand their basic human rights, including the right to gather with people from a community without fear of getting arrested. The Stonewall Riots inspired the LGBTQ+ people to believe in the power of their numbers and drove a passion for advocacy. Two year laters, instead of riots, queer communities around the world led their self-constructed activist organizations to the streets to let their voices be heard by their surrounding communities and governments.
Fortunately, these days, June marks the month that LGBTQ+ people come together for a Pride Parade. A celebration to remind us how far we have come. Yes, there is still a fight to fight. There are still voices that haven’t been heard. Stories that haven’t been shared. And maybe some of those stories will connect with someone who grew up in a small-minded community that was conditioned to view LGBTQ+ people as something other than a living, breathing, feeling human.
Check out our Queer Moments In Pop Culture | So What? series to dive into the cultural shifts in attitudes towards queer and trans people and how these shifts have been reflected in pop culture. Over four episodes, we go back in time throughout the history of film, television, music and queer culture, to understand how far we’ve come and become inspired to continue making change for the future.
In our culture episode, we explore the evolution of gay life from a news and lifestyle perspective, touching on dating culture, news coverage and societal acceptance on a worldwide scale.