"The bravery of those that fought back cannot be ignored; this was a time where homosexuality was outlawed and brutal victimization of the LGBT community was woefully common."
With Gay Pride Month set to take the world by storm over the coming months, here at Blued we have become a little Gay Pride obsessed! As excitement, anticipation and awe fill every vein in our bodies, we thought we would celebrate all that is great about this event and look back in history at how it all started and what helped make it the great and important diary date that it is.
How it all started
The first Gay Pride was on June 28th 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in New York, USA but wasn’t quite what you see today. The original meaning and drive of “Gay Pride” began through clashes between the customers of the pub and local policemen. While there were previous raids this was the first that the customers properly fought back in, culminating in a 3-day riot where customers considered themselves activitists for equal rights and acceptance. In the first day of the riot, 13 people were arrested with many more hospitalized. The bravery of those that fought back cannot be ignored; this was a time where homosexuality was outlawed and brutal victimization of the LGBT community was woefully common.
One man attending stated “I just can’t ever get that one sight out of my mind. The cops with the [nightsticks] and the kick line on the other side. It was the most amazing thing… And all the sudden that kick line, which I guess was a spoof on the machismo… I think that’s when I felt rage. Because people were getting smashed with bats. And for what? A kick line! ”
Remembering and changing attitudes
In remembrance of the horrific events in New York a year later, and after the formation of the American Gay Rights Movement (people felt the 1950’s Mattachine Society operated far too mildly after the Stonewall Riots), the year of the first ever officially organized Gay Pride event called the Christopher Street Liberation Day March was organised – partly in memory of the events of Stonewall but also to actively campaign for equality where members of the LGBT community proudly chanted, “Say it clear, say it loud. Gay is good, Gay is proud.” . Absolutely right too!
From Rainbow Flag to Gay Pride as we know it
The event continued annually with roots driven directly from the events of Stonewall. Inevitably, the crusade spread nationally to all major cities in the US and then internationally to all major cities around the world. The sheer bravery of even appearing in public marching in these events in places around the world – where you could be killed for being gay – cannot go unmentioned. Around 1978 the iconic, rainbow flag appeared as a Gay Pride flag – before this a pink triangle was used but there were some nazi-esque connotations and so discarded in favour of the flag we know.
Gay Pride as we know it started emerging. Parades became more like carnivals – “celebrations” of being gay, alongside which whole calendars of events are arranged around it. And now, in the Summer months, there are few countries that aren’t hosts to at least one celebration From Austria to Australia, Bulgaria to Brazil, we celebrate the full spectrum of LGBT life.
You could be forgiven for thinking that attending an event these days is simply a good excuse for a party and there is that element in the celebration but the message of Pride is a clear and present message in 2017 as it was in 1969. There are so many places in the world that the LGBT community is as stricken with violence, unacceptance and inequality as it was in 1960’s America and Gay Pride continues to spread its vital message to the world.
Make sure to check our full listing of Pride events in the UK here.