June is Pride month and a celebration of the LGBTQ community. But what is the history or pride month? How far have we come?
Members of the LGBTQ community have faced horrific levels of discrimination and violence. The community still faces higher rates of violence than other groups. It is an ongoing battle with the history of injustice stretching out behind us.
The Stone Wall Riots
The Stone Wall Riots happened in New York in the June of 1969. At the time, being gay was still a crime. There was one bar in Greenwich Village where LGBTQ people would go dancing and connect with their community.
On the fateful night of June 28, 1969 the police showed up to raid the bar. The patrons rallied behind two transgender women of color, Marsha Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, to resist the police raid.
The Stonewall Riot has gone down in history as a clear moment of change in the fight and rights of the LGBTQ community. Pride month was established to commemorate this event.
Canadian History of Pride
One of the first defining moments for LGBT rights in Canada also took place in 1969. Canada decriminalized homosexual activities between two consenting adults. The law amended in full on June 27, 1969, one day before the Stonewall Riots.
The Canadian communities continued the fight for their rights with protests and events starting in 1971. By the 1980s, cities such as Edmonton began to host their first Pride Parades.
There are many events, mass arrests, protests and riots that have shaped the Canadian LGBTQ history. In recent years, the Canadian government has updated the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code to include terms such as “gender identity” and “gender expression”. These changes make it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of their gender identity or expression. We have come a long way and there is still a ways to go.
The Evolution of Pride
Many people see Pride today as a colorful expression and joyous celebration. The idea of what Pride has become has formed a lot over time.
The first Pride Parade was organized a month after the first riots with the help of bisexual activist Brenda Howard. The following year it became a week-long event. It was around this time that the term “Gay Pride” was coined.
The committee organizing the Pride festivities were trying to find a slogan fitting for the event. Finally one of the committee members, L. Craig Schoonmaker, suggested “gay pride”. It seemed immediately fitting as anyone can take pride in who they are.
As Pride continued every year, new ideas became incorporated. In 1978, the first rainbow Pride flag was introduced. The first flag was designed by Gilbert Baker and originally had a total of eight stripes. He intended each color stripe to represent a different sexual identity.
How Do You Celebrate Pride?
No matter how you celebrate Pride, it’s good to know the history behind it. A lot of people have fought and suffered for the freedom to express who they are freely and without prosecution. There are still many areas in the world where it’s unsafe to do that. Embrace and spread the message of love by sharing this article. Help create safe space for LGBTQ people in your life.
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