June is Pride Month!

Many people know that June is Pride Month, but do you know the history behind it? Officially known as LGBT Pride Month, June is a time to honor the 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York City, which helped launch the push for LGBT rights into the mainstream media.[1]

On June 28, 1969, at around 1:20am, police arrived at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, NY to conduct a discriminatory police raid. At the time, homosexuality was still criminalized. Men could also be arrested for dressing in drag and women received the same punishment if they were found wearing less than three pieces of “feminine clothing.”[2] The 200 or so patrons at the Stonewall Inn resisted and rioted until nearly 4:00am, resulting in thirteen arrested protesters, four injured police officers, and significant damage to the Stonewall in including smashed payphones, toilets, mirrors, jukeboxes, and cigarette machines.[3] Riots continued sporadically for the next five days up and down Christopher Street (where the Stonewall Inn was located), and the movement for LGBT equality moved into a more public spotlight.[4]

In November of 1969, several activists proposed New York’s first march for LGBT rights (then called the Christopher Street Liberation Day march[5]) to take place the following year. Brenda Howard, one of the early organizers, came up with the idea for a week-long series of events surrounding the march.[6] In 1970, on the one year anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Los Angeles and Chicago put on the first official Gay Pride marches in the United States. The following year Boston, Dallas, and Milwaukee held their own marches, as well as other cities around the world, including London, West Berlin, and Stockholm.

Today, Pride events attract millions of participants from around the world. Memorials are also held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals have on history locally, nationally, and internationally.

Pride has its place outside of cities too. Many smaller cities and towns are now organizing their own Pride events, including here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. This year the NEPA Rainbow Alliance is putting together the area’s 12th annual Pride event called “March to the Park” in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

The March to the Park will be held on Saturday, July 13, 2019 at Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre. The day begins with a 5k walk/run at 9:00am and continues with a Pride Parade at noon and an afternoon filled with local vendors and entertainment.

Caring Communities will be present at NEPA Pride as well! We will be offering free and confidential HIV/STD testing all day long! We will also have prizes for everyone who gets tested with us and free condoms, rainbow stress balls, and mini pride flags for anyone who stops by our stand (while supplies last) as well as a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card, which is free for anyone to enter. Hope to see you there!

[1] https://www.loc.gov/lgbt-pride-month/about/

[2] https://www.bustle.com/articles/166925-the-origins-of-pride-month-what-you-should-know-about-its-history

[3] Duberman, Martin B. Stonewall. Plume, 1994.

[4] https://www.huffpost.com/entry/why-is-june-so-gay-and-other-pride-101-facts-you-need-to-know_n_5b11b287e4b02143b7cc76c8

[5] http://www.curvemag.com/Culture/Meet-Brenda-Howard-The-Bisexual-Mother-Of-Pride-2451/

[6] https://olyarts.org/2018/06/06/the-pride-movement/