It’s June and for members of the LGBTQ community, their families, friends, and allies, it’s a time of remembrance, commemoration, and celebration. It’s a time of year when we recognize the sweeping impact the LGBTQ community has had on history in the U.S. and around the globe. June is Pride Month!
Some of the most significant contributions to our society and our history were by members of the LGBTQ community. From Alexander the Great, Leonardo DaVinci and Michelangelo, to Sally Ride, Anderson Cooper and Ellen DeGeneres, LGBTQ people have given us art, culture, literature and science, and played an integral part in our civilization.
But it’s been a long road to liberation for the LGBTQ community. For centuries they were shamed, persecuted and criminalized. The first movement in this country hadn’t even begun until 1924 when Henry Gerber, a German immigrant, founded the first documented gay rights organization in the United States, the “Society for Human Rights.” In 1925, police raids caused the group to disband.
Over the next several decades, advances were slow. The ‘60’s arrived, a period of counterculture and the civil rights movement, but didn’t bring any real movement for the gay community until late in the decade. It was the uprising at the Stonewall Inn in NYC on June 28th, 1969, that became the tipping point for the movement. The gay bar in Greenwich Village was raided that night by police, only instead of capitulating, the patrons fought back beginning a riot that would last six days. Those riots turned the tide and real progress was on the horizon.
A year later the first pride assemblies took place. On June 28th, 1970, marking the first anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, demonstrations were held in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Labeled “Christopher Street Liberation Day” in NY, a march began at the Stonewall Inn and covered 51 blocks, ending in Central Park. It was the very first pride parade.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of that first march, and today LGBTQ Pride draws millions of people out from all around the world each year to a month-long celebration. Typically, celebrations include pride parades, marches, parties, concerts, and educational workshops. Rainbow flags are flown in towns and cities across the globe. Also a time for reflection, memorials are held for members of the LGBTQ community who have tragically lost their lives to either hate crimes or HIV/AIDS.
The LGBTQ movement has made incredible progress, most of it in recent years. In 2015 a Supreme Court decision made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states, and in 2017 the Court administered rulings that made adoption by same-sex couples legal in all 50 states. But for as far as they’ve come, LGBTQ people still face violence, inequality, and in some countries torture or execution because of whom they are or whom they love.
This month, take a moment to remember all the LGBTQ community has contributed. Reflect on what they have lost, what there is left to gain, and celebrate!