June is LGBTQ pride month and 2019 marks the 50th anniversary since the start. It’s a month filled with the colors of the rainbow, parades that fill the streets, and is a chance for gay guys, gals, and nonbinary pals to celebrate each other. Yet Pride wasn’t always a party, so lets break down what’s happened over the last 50 years.
In June of 1969 New York police stormed into the Stonewall Inn – a gay bar located in Greenwich Village. People were arrested and harassed but most of all the bar’s patron’s were pissed. They had been dealing with the ambushes from the police for awhile, and now they were ready to revolt. So they did.
Kicks, punches, bottles, and according to some, a brick was thrown at officers as the people of the Stonewall Inn fought against their unprovoked arrests. They were sending a message to those that would see it on the news or read it in the papers: we are not going to deal with it anymore! We are humans and we deserve to be treated as such!
Key players in the Gay Rights Movement emerged during this riot including Marsha P. Johnson, a transgender female whom helped pioneer acceptance for transgendered people.
As the smoke and dust cleared in front of the Stonewall Inn a new activist group emerged: the Gay Liberation Front. Known as GLF, this group spoke out about the homophobic oppression and called for gays, lesbians, and transgendered people of all races and ages to band together against the hate. No longer were they going to be treated as monsters- they had rights and they were going to demand that society give the rights to them.
“Ok, so that doesn’t sound like a party,” you may say – and you’d be right. It wasn’t a party, it was an act of political defiance. A chance for the voiceless to become heard amongst the screams for oppression. Each June following 1969 became a chance to give a big middle finger to those in politics and to those who wore police uniforms. A chance to say “we’re here and we’re proud of who we are!”
The first official pride march was a success in 1970 with thousands coming to New York to show their support. From then on more and more cities around the US started to hold their own pride parades, and some even including more than just the march. Extravagant costumes, music and floats created a fun atmosphere for those attending pride, and showed opponents that LGBTQ people were humans too.
In 1978 an artist by the name of Gilbert Baker created the first (and most popular/mainstream) pride flag. The flag is beautiful rainbow that represents everyone who identifies as LGBTQ+ and now has become a symbol of pride. This symbol is now used to fuel a movement, to sell pride merchandise, and even to indicate which brands and companies are accepting of LGBTQ people.
Today pride month represents more than just happy people celebrating each other, it represents 50 years of protests, rights, and the challenging of traditional ways. Organizations like The Trevor Project, Glaad, and the It Gets Better Organization provide LGBTQ people, especially youths, with resources specifically tailored for gay and transgendered people. Homosexuality is no longer looked at as a crime (though oppression still exists), and rainbow flags fly high and proud.
So fly those flags, kiss your partner, and remember how far we’ve come over the last 50 years and how much farther we still have to go. – EC
Emmy is a senior at Boston University studying Film & Television Production and Studies with a concentration in English. She has spent the last three semesters as the Executive Producer for Boston University’s televised pop culture game show, Pop Showdown!, where she fell in love with media production. She also works as an Audio Engineer for BUTV10’s live broadcast of BU Men’s and Women’s Basketball, as well as assists on several other productions for the television station. When she’s not working, she enjoys flexing her writer’s brain for skits and sketches to entertain her friends.