Reflect, Empower, Unite: Celebrating 40 Years of Pride

Know History – Then Add Context

While Pride celebrations formally started in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago in 1970, it was a commemoration of the Stonewall uprising which happened a year earlier in 1969. It was June 28, 1969, when a series of clashes known as the Stonewall riots began in New York City, marking a pivotal moment in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights.

The Setting

During the 1960s, gay bars were frequently targeted by police raids. These raids were often humiliating and violent, with LGBTQ+ individuals having little to no physical protection or legal recourse. The Stonewall Inn, a tavern in Greenwich Village, served as a popular refuge for many, particularly those marginalized within the wider community such as drag queens, transgender people, and unhoused youth.

The Raid

In the early hours of June 28, 1969, the police conducted another raid on the Stonewall Inn. This time, however, the patrons decided to fight back. Unlike previous raids where arrests were met with resignation, the crowd resisted, leading to a tense standoff in resistance to years of relentless police harassment.

The Uprising

The situation quickly escalated, moving into a full-blown clash between officers and Stonewall’s LGBTQ+ patrons. The conflict continued over several days, with LGBTQ+ individuals and their advocates taking to the streets in protest the systemic oppression they faced.

The Legacy

While Stonewall was not the first instance of LGBTQ+ resistance, it became a defining moment in the continuing struggle for equality and legal protection. The events at Stonewall gave fuel to the dawning gay rights movement, inspiring the organization of the first Pride marches referenced above.ADVERTISEMENT

Celebrate Intersectional Identities

It is crucial to acknowledge the contributions of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, transgender women of color without whom the LGBTQ+ movement would not be what it is today. Both women played significant roles in the Stonewall riots. Their efforts are often downplayed; however, their work was instrumental in the uprising and in shaping the movement that followed.

The Stonewall riots serve as a reminder of the courage and resilience of those who stood up against oppression, paving the way for future generations in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights.

Today, Stonewall stands as a powerful symbol of LGBTQ+ resistance and a reminder of the ongoing fight for equality, equity, and inclusion – a struggle that continues today. So, before we can celebrate, empower, and unite around pride, let us acknowledge the history of this month, where it started and can help us better understand where we are and where we need to go in the future.

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