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If there’s one month (in the United States, at least) in which you can find rainbows and pink triangles everywhere, it’s June. In the middle of the year, we celebrate how far lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights have come in the past decades and refocus our commitment to immediate and future progress.
2014 is the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which is generally considered to be the genesis of the modern gay rights movement in the USA. (There were group actions prior to the riots, but they went less noticed and had less effect than the riots themselves.)
The Stonewall Inn, a bar on Christopher Street in New York City, was popular among the poorest and most marginalized people in the gay community at that time (mid-1969): drag queens, effeminate young men, and homeless youth, among others. Though police raids on gay bars were relatively common, the officers at the Stonewall Inn lost control of the situation and a crowd grew and was incited to riot. Tension between the NYPD and the gay residents of Greenwich Village was even more strained than it previously had been and broke into more rioting the next evening and again several nights later. Initially, activists focused on creating spaces in New York and the United States that gay citizens could go and live openly without fear of being arrested.
The very first Gay Pride marches took place in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago on June 28, 1970, exactly one year from the date of the original Stonewall riots. Today, parades and events are held annually toward the end of June all over the world! Brenda Howard, known as the Mother of Pride, organized and coordinated the first LGBT Pride march and originated the idea for a weeklong series of events surrounding Pride Day (also in June) that eventually expanded to include the entire month of June.
Do you celebrate Pride? Even if you think you don’t know any LGBT person, the likelihood is that you actually do! See what you can do this weekend to further equal rights for all people.