Around the world, Pride celebrations take a variety of forms, from parades to parties to protests and proms. Since the start of the modern LGBTQ+ liberation movement in the 1970s, hundreds of independent Pride events have sprung up in cities worldwide. But how did Pride become what it is today? Let’s take a deep dive into Pride and explore its history.
Although it may feel like a party today, protests are deeply embedded in the history of Pride. It all started with the Stonewall Uprising in New York City. In the early morning of June 28th, 1969, eight officers from the New York City’s Public Morals Division, a unit of the police department, raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village.
This raid wasn’t unusual in New York (or many other cities). Back then, the Public Morals Division enforced all laws for vice and gambling, including prostitution, narcotics and homosexuality. Cops could arrest and even force hospitalization of gay people. On this particular evening, however, the bar patrons fought back. More and more patrons joined the fight, including people from neighboring bars, and mayhem ensued. Hundreds of people resisted arrest and fought against police oppression. The protest lasted six days.
The following year, the anniversary of the Stonewall riots was marked by demonstrations in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The parades were a mix of politics and celebration. They promoted visibility of the LGBTQ community including their needs and rights — like protection against harassment, raising awareness of the AIDS epidemic or fighting for marriage equality.
Since the Stonewall riots, Pride events have grown tremendously, bringing out hundreds of thousands of people to celebrate each year across the world. And while there have been some huge gains in LGBTQ+ rights, there is still a ways to go.
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