To be Especially Proud

July 16, 2020

By: Maranda Carlson

Pride: normally defined as, a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired. Except, 

Pride means something so much more during the month of June, when it is a month to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.

This month however, Pride is not as eventful or even as powerful as past years, due to parades and celebrations being canceled because of COVID-19. With the protests that are happening in the U.S (and even some other countries like parts of England) I would like us to take this time to think and reflect on what Pride is and how it started and how it relates to the events today.

While LGBTQ+ activists had been fighting for rights since the 1920’s it was not until June 28th, 1969 when eight New York Officers raided a popular gay bar called Stonewall Inn. While these raids happened often, this night was different. Marsha P. Johnson, a black, transgender activist who was a big part of the LGBTQ+ liberation movement, shouted, “I have my rights” and threw her shot glass into a mirror. This incited a fight between the police officers and patrons of the bar and a riot, that included neighboring bar patrons, ensued. Afterwards, thousands of people heard about the riots and showed up the next night to protest and fight the police injustice of the LGBTQ+ community. The riots lasted six days.

The Stonewall riots were the turning point for the LGBTQ+ movement due to media coverage showing firsthand the struggle of the community, which in turn brought more people to the protest to support the people fighting for rights.

The next year, the anniversary of the Stonewall riots were marked by demonstrations in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The New York City day of celebration was called “Christopher Street Liberation Day.” Los Angeles and San Francisco, event became known as “Gay Freedom Marches,” and the day was called “Gay Freedom Day.”  While, Chicago had Gay Pride Week.

The parades/Marches were a mixture of politics and celebration. They catapulted visibility of the LGBTQ+ community and their needs and rights, like protection against harassment from police and individuals, raising awareness of the AIDS epidemic or fighting for marriage equality. They gave the LGBTQ+ movement a voice, that once support grew, began to be heard.

Eventually, as fewer radical activists started taking over the march committees in different cities, the idea shifted.  They dropped “Gay Liberation” and “Gay Freedom” from the names, replacing them with a united “Gay Pride.”

Now, lets bring this full circle. Many are not happy with Pride being cancelled this year. But, take a look at the world around you right now. All the protests and riots that are happening are in the same vein as the Stonewall Riots. Fighting for rights, equality, and against police brutality of African Americans. The same reasons the LGBTQ+ were rioting and marching for.

So, I ask that instead of being upset that Pride Parades have been canceled, join the Black Lives Matter Movement this month and support this group the same way LGBTQ+ were supported.