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Updated: Jun 12, 2020

Today we kickoff the celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride Month by taking a look at the past to detail the history of Pride.

The history of Pride Month in the United States can be traced to June 28, 1969. When the patrons of Stonewall Inn, a New York City gay bar in Greenwich Village, holding over 200 patrons and surrounding bystanders fought back against a discriminatory police raid inciting riots. The bar was a place heavily frequented by LGBTQ+ African Americans and on the first night of the riots of the nearly 400 people protesting a large percentage were African American among those present were notable LGBTQ+ activist Marsha P. Johnson, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, and Stormé DeLarverie. Although police reinforcements dispersed the crowd, riots continued outside the bar for the next five days, and these Stonewall riots provided the spark that ignited the largest gay rights movement in the United States.

On November 2, 1969 at the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations, which is an organization created in 1952 dedicated to addressing discrimination LGBTQ+ people faced from authorities, in Philadelphia, the idea of a march in response to the Stonewall events was proposed. Scheduled for June 28, 1970, the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the march was named the Christopher Street Liberation Day march after the street that was the epicenter of New York City’s gay community and from which the procession originated. The phrase “gay power” had been proposed as the slogan for the march, however it was argued that the movement had yet to be politically empowered but that its members felt great pride in their sexual identity.

Thus, it was decided that the march’s theme would be “gay pride.”, which is the origin of the month being known as Pride Month. From the initial Christopher Street Liberation Day march in 1970 the movement expanded from a few isolated marches to an annual weekly remembrance march. Eventually transforming into a month long celebration, which included marches, parades, and events. In the 1990s, Black Pride parades started to appear in conjunction with other Pride month events. The first official celebration was held at the Club House, a popular black gay bar in Washington, D.C., in 1991. Since then, the Center for Black Equity has helped organize and promote Pride parades geared towards the black community.

While Pride Month has grown immensely since its origins the focused efforts towards catering to African American LGBTQ+ people in recent years is significant because according to a national survey conducted in 2018 around 66% of African American LGBTQ+ youth report having a depressed mood, 35% have considered suicide, and 19% have attempted suicide. It is important that events specifically created to endorse Black pride exist because only 39% of African American LGBTQ+ youth have received Professional Mental Health Care. It is because of statistics like these that make Pride Month so special because it is the celebration of all facets of one’s identity, reassurance that you are not alone in the struggles that come with being a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and most important you can have pride in who you are.

Author, Kevin J.

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