June is Pride Month, which is an exciting time for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a celebration of individuality, acceptance and staying true to oneself. As fun as this is, it’s also very important to remember that Pride isn’t just about parades, festivals and drag shows. It’s also a time to recognize that the rights the LGBTQ+ community has today come from the hard work and advocacy of those who came before us.
It’s also a time to renew our commitment to the fight. After all, the first pride was a riot.
The first Pride parade, known as the Christopher Street Liberation Day March, was on June 28, 1970, one year after the famous Stonewall Uprising. Stonewall was a gay bar in New York City during a time when police routinely raided gay bars. Being gay was much more heavily stigmatized than it is today. On the night of June 28, 1969, the police raided the Stonewall Inn, and this time, the patrons had finally had enough. When the police assaulted a lesbian patron of the bar, bystanders rioted. The initial riot was eventually dispersed, but protests continued on and off for five days after.
Though it was not the first time police had raided a gay bar, nor was it the first LGBTQ+ liberation protest, it was a turning point for the modern gay rights movement, bringing awareness and galvanizing the LGBTQ+ community and allies to take action and change the culture.
Stonewall is the reason we celebrate Pride Month in June. Thanks to activists like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Stormé DeLarverie, who all played major roles in the Stonewall uprising, LGBTQ+ folks have more acceptance in America than ever. However, the fight isn’t over. Laws are being passed in our country as we speak that harm the LGBTQ+ community, and it is our responsibility to fight back. Enjoy Pride, with its festivities, rainbows and excitement, but don’t forget the meaning behind it.
Happy Pride Month!
Kimberly Adamski is a sex educator who lives in West Hartford.