A Brief History of the Pride Movement
June is LGBTQIA2S+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual and Two-Spirit) month. Yes, that's a lot of letters. The good news is that it's completely acceptable to simply use LGBT. LGBT Pride Month has a very auspicious beginning. As has become a popular slogan "The first pride was a riot!"
In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969 the New York Police Department conducted yet another raid on the Stonewall Inn. No one really knows why this raid was different, but it was. This time, the gays, lesbians, and transexuals stood up for themselves and fought back. This riot and further protests and rioting over the following nights were the watershed moment in the modern LGBT rights movement and the impetus for organizing LGBT pride marches on a much larger public scale.
The following year June 28, 1970 was celebrated as Christopher Street Liberation Day (the Stonewall Inn is located on Christopher Street). The celebration included the first LGBT Pride March and covered the 51 blocks from Christopher Street to Central Park. The march took less than half the scheduled time due to excitement, but also due to wariness about walking through the city with gay banners and signs.
Throughout the 70s and 80s Pride Parades/Marches were held in most American cities larger than about 200,000 people. The first Pride March to be held in Madison, WI was on May 3, 1988. Fun fact, I was there. I was a junior in high school at the time and happened to be in town for the State Solo & Ensemble Music competition. I remember thinking even then, that it must take a lot of courage to take part in that march.
It's taken a lot of courage from a lot of people to get us where we are today. From those first pride marches to the marches on Washington, and the many, many other marches that have been conducted in the name of LGBT visibility, the goal was always just that. Visibility. Before these parades and Pride month existed, the only times the gay community were visible were when they rioted. The Compton Cafeteria riot in San Francisco (1966) and the Stonewall Riot (1969) are two notable examples. Pride Month finally gave us the visibility we've needed. Despite this visibility we've gained our civil rights slowly and incrementally. Wisconsin first legalized private, consensual, sexual acts in 1983. It would be another 32 years before the LGBT community were allowed to marry. Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court decision that legalized homosexual marriage, was a landmark decision that many in the LGBT community waited a long, long time for. With that, we still have a long way to go. Because we haven't reached the end (equality) we still march. We still celebrate Pride Month, because we still need that visibility. Thank you for supporting us and our little venture. We're proud of who we are and we support whatever it is that you are. Do you the best that you can, and happy Pride everyone! Don Executive Gay Activist Wisco Home Goods