Welcome to June, the month I finally get to begin my (short) summer, the weather really starts heating up, and the world gets to celebrate something very important.
Welcome to Pride Month.
If you’ve been on Google today you might have seen the rainbow colors on their doodle for the day, that is something special. Those colors represent the birthday of Gilbert Baker, the man who designed what is now known as the flag that represents LGBTQ+. Though he passed away just this year in March, his activism and his flag, has spread through this world in a way that is very much alive.
That’s what this month is about.
For those of you who do not know, Pride month itself and the celebration of its essence began back in 1969 with the Stonewall Riots: a stand against police harassment towards a group of gay customers in Greenwich Village, New York. At the time, most states had laws passed against the group gathering of LGBTQ+ people, gay bars, and public homosexuality. This riot began in protest of discrimination in the Stonewall Inn, and as people shouted “gay power”, standing up up for their own human rights, they stated something they never saw coming.
Protests lasted for days with even 1,000 people attending at once. Ultimately, this led to the Gay Liberation Movement and Christopher Street Liberation Day which happened on June 28, 1970; the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots with as well as the first Gay Pride march in U.S. history. It covered an entire 51 blocks through to Central Park.
Known as the “Mother of Pride” for her help in organizing the march, Brenda Howard originated the celebrations and festivities held every June and also coined what we now know as the term Pride.
From there the movement spread, as all movements do, to San Francisco and LA, then Boston and Dallas, and so many more places before the culture behind it had shifted completely into something global. Something stronger. Here in the United States, it took us until our 42nd President, Bill Clinton, to recognize Pride on June 2, 2000. Since then, both Clinton and Obama acknowledged this month, however, President Trump could have been the first Republican President to do so. The future of that possibility is yet to be seen.
Around the world, we celebrate the people who make up the 7.4 billion population we are surrounded by. Among those who have passed away, many of the most incredible people were also a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Have you ever heard of Bessie Smith, Empress of the Blues, and one of the highest paid black entertainers of all time? Maybe you know of, Tennesee Williams, writer of the Glass Menagerie? Or how about Sally Ride, the first woman in space? Each of them were a part of LGBTQ+ history, a part of what this world has now come to celebrate, and major contributors to the music, entertainment, and accomplishments of the United States.
We cannot celebrate our history without recognizing all the pieces of it. Just like Black History Month or Women’s History Month,
we celebrate Pride as more than a month, but an appreciation for every person it applies to. Because no matter what a person identifies with or what defines who they are, they just might change the world someday. I know some LGBTQ+ people who have already changed mine.
Before Baker’s flag emerged in 1978, the symbol of gay pride was a pink triangle— Hitler made homosexuals wear them as a tag during World War Two. We have come a long way, legalizing gay marriage two years ago, but there is still a long road ahead as the world around us becomes more accepting of what being an “American” really means. From accepting that racism is still an issue to coming to terms with the status of our Earth’s climate, things have changed a lot since I was born, but not as much as I believe they will in the future.
One way or another, an easy way to bring change is with education— today, I hope you learned a little bit more about what Pride Month really means. Whether you identify with, support, or simply understand the community, know that like any other identity in this world, it deserves to be respected at the very least. If you join in on the celebration this year, at a Pride parade or anywhere else, it’s important to know the boundaries not to cross— how to appreciate without accidentally discriminating. Like Gilbert Baker believed when creating the flag, “We needed something beautiful, something from us. The rainbow is so perfect because it really fits our diversity in terms of race, gender, ages, all of those things.”
Not only did he create a beautiful flag, he created a safe space for more equality, brought people together, and probably changed so many lives in the process. Because that is the beauty change in this world and the ability people have to come together in communities. In a world of 7.4 billion people and 12 months to celebrate each of every one of us, this one is for LGBTQ+. And that is the beauty of Pride.
P.S. If you want to learn any more, click on all those blue words and it’ll take you right to the info!