🏳️‍🌈 Celebrating Pride Month – Part I 🏳️‍🌈

The past few months have been tough.  More than 113,000 of our friends, family members and neighbors have died in the U.S. alone as a result of a pandemic virus, police brutality and racism have shown us the ugliest face of our nation, and we have zero leadership to help us deal with these problems.  But, despite all the problems, despite the anguish this nation is undergoing, we cannot overlook a significant month.  This is the 9th day of June, and it was only yesterday that I remembered that June is Pride Month.  Another year, I would have seen it mentioned in a variety of venues, but this year I, like many others, was preoccupied and it was only my friend Brendan’s post that rang the bell for me yesterday evening.

This year, most all of the parades and celebrations have been canceled, the nation is torn and tattered, and try as I might, I could not write a cheerful post worthy of the occasion.  So … today I will be reprising last year’s two-part post with only a few changes or updates.

Pride-month-3June is Pride Month, a month dedicated to recognizing the impact LGBTQ people have had in the world.  I see Pride Month in much the same way I see February’s Black History Month.  It is a way to honour or commemorate those who rarely receive the recognition they deserve, and are often discriminated against, simply because they are LGBTQ, or black, in the case of Black History Month.  A bit of history …

The Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, was owned by the Genovese crime family, and in 1966, three members of the Genovese family invested $3,500 to turn the Stonewall Inn into a gay bar, after it had been a restaurant and a nightclub for heterosexuals. Once a week a police officer would collect envelopes of cash as a payoff, as the Stonewall Inn had no liquor license and thus was operating outside the law.  It was the only bar for gay men in New York City where dancing was allowed; dancing was its main draw since its re-opening as a gay club.

At 1:20 a.m. on Saturday, June 28, 1969, four plainclothes policemen in dark suits, two patrol officers in uniform, and Detective Charles Smythe and Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine arrived at the Stonewall Inn’s double doors and announced “Police! We’re taking the place!”  Approximately 205 people were in the bar that night. Patrons who had never experienced a police raid were confused. A few who realized what was happening began to run for doors and windows in the bathrooms, but police barred the doors.

Standard procedure was to line up the patrons, check their identification, and have female police officers take customers dressed as women to the bathroom to verify their sex, upon which any men dressed as women would be arrested. Those dressed as women that night refused to go with the officers. Men in line began to refuse to produce their identification. The police decided to take everyone present to the police station, after separating those cross-dressing in a room in the back of the bar.

Long story short, a few patrons were released before the patrol wagons arrived to cart the rest off to jail, and those few stayed out front, attracted quite a large crowd, mostly LGBT people, and after an officer hit a woman over the head for saying her handcuffs were too tight, the crowd went into fight mode.  By this time, the police were outnumbered by some 600 people.  Garbage cans, garbage, bottles, rocks, and bricks were hurled at the building, breaking the windows.  The mob lit garbage on fire and stuffed it through the broken windows.  Police tried to use water hoses to disperse the crowd, but there was no water pressure.  Police pulled their weapons, but before they could fire them, the Tactical Patrol Force and firefighters arrived.  The crowd mocked and fought against the police, who began swinging their batons right and left, not much caring who they hit or where.

The crowd was cleared by 4:00 a.m., but the mood remained dark, and the next night, rioting resumed with thousands of people showing up at the Stonewall, blocking the streets.  Police responded, and again it was 4:00 a.m. before the mob was cleared.

There comes a point when people who are mistreated, abused, discriminated against, have had enough.  It is the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, and the police raid on the Stonewall Inn, the treatment of people who were only out to enjoy the night, was that straw.  It was a history making night, not only for the LGBTQ community, but for the nation.pride-month-stonewall.jpgWithin six months of the Stonewall riots, activists started a citywide newspaper called Gay; they considered it necessary because the most liberal publication in the city—The Village Voice—refused to print the word “gay”.  Two other newspapers were initiated within a six-week period: Come Out! and Gay Power; the readership of these three periodicals quickly climbed to between 20,000 and 25,000.  Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) was formed with a constitution that began …

“We as liberated homosexual activists demand the freedom for expression of our dignity and value as human beings.”

I think that says it all, don’t you?  ‘Dignity and value as human beings’.  It is, in my book, a crying shame that our society needs to be reminded that we are all human beings, that we all have value and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970 marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots with an assembly on Christopher Street; with simultaneous Gay Pride marches in Los Angeles and Chicago, these were the first Gay Pride marches in U.S. history. The next year, Gay Pride marches took place in Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee, London, Paris, West Berlin, and Stockholm.  The Stonewall riots are considered the birth of the gay liberation movement and of gay pride on a massive scale.  The event has been likened to the Boston Tea Party, and Rosa Parks’ refusal to move to the back of the bus.  All of those were people’s way of saying, “We’ve had enough!”

Last year marked the 50 year anniversary of the Stonewall Inn raid and ensuing riots, and at long last, the New York City Police Department apologized to the LGBTQ community.  “The actions taken by the NYPD [at Stonewall] were wrong, plain and simple,” police commissioner James O’Neill said.  He also noted that the frequent harassment of LGBTQ men and women and laws that prohibited same-sex sexual relations are “discriminatory and oppressive” and apologized on behalf of the department.

President Bill Clinton first declared June to be National Pride Month in 1999, and again in 2000.  On June 1, 2001, President George W. Bush announced that the White House would not formally recognize Pride Month.  Every year that President Barack Obama was in office, he declared June to be LGBT Pride Month.  Donald Trump ignored it in 2017 and 2018, but acknowledged Pride Month in 2019, but only via tweet, and he blocked the display of the Pride flag at all U.S. embassies.  This year, he completely ignored Pride Month, though he did manage to find time to declare June to be “National Homeownership Month” and “Great Outdoors Month.”  Ah well … who needs him, anyway?

Since this post turned into a history lesson, I wrote a second post to highlight some of the celebrations, the fun ways that people celebrate pride month, the people and organizations that are supporting Pride Month, and to honour the LGBTQ community, but I felt the history was important also, so … stay tuned for Part II later this afternoon!


26 thoughts on “🏳️‍🌈 Celebrating Pride Month – Part I 🏳️‍🌈

  1. So many resonances with the Black Lives Matter movement. Perhaps the most important is that when people take collective action because they have had enough of discrimination and harassment, they can do amazing things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right, and most of the LGBT community is working in conjunction with the #BlackLivesMatter movement this year. I may do a post on that later this month. Discrimination is discrimination, whether against blacks, Hispanics, gays, atheists, Muslims, or any of a number of other people who are considered to be “lesser beings” by the arrogant bigots in this country. I think that it’s time for all of us to put our feet down and say “ENOUGH”. ‘Twould be nice if we had supportive and conscionable leadership, but as you know, we don’t. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A long time ago, on a music post, I mentioned that a dear friend of mine living in Greenwich Village was present when the Stonewall Riot took place on June 28, 1969. Though not gay himself, he and two of his friends were meeting three of their gay co-worker/friends at the Stonewall Inn when the rioting broke out and became involved. All 6 of them, gay and straight, took part in the Christopher Street Liberation Day parade on June 28,1970 for the first anniversary. Of all of the things that had an impact on his life, he talked about those two things often. He loved that all 6 friends were part of the first gay Pride March in U.S. history. Whilst he did not have personal photos of the riots, he had some great photos taken at the 1970 event. Thank-you for revisiting this post!


    • What a wonderful memory. I think I know who that friend might have been, which makes this even more poignant. Among my readers and friends are several who are members of the LGBT community, and through them I have learned so much about the abuses they endure even in this, the 21st century. Sigh. When will we ever learn?


  3. Pingback: 🏳️‍🌈 Celebrating Pride Month – Part II 🏳️‍🌈 | Filosofa's Word

  4. Thank you for sharing!!.. “When we begin to build walls of prejudice, hatred, pride, and self-indulgence around ourselves, we are more surely imprisoned than any prisoner behind concrete walls and iron bars.” Mother Angelica

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, Jill, for this post. With all the other issues going on, Pride has taken a back seat and it should not. The LGBTQ+ community is still as vulnerable to intolerance and hatred as we were last year. Our earned rights are also being assaulted by an Administration that has extremely narrow vision.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re most welcome, my friend. I remember last year, Pride Month was in all the news, but this year it is going largely unnoticed, and … that’s not right. Yes, there is a lot happening with the coronavirus, the economy, and the murder of George Floyd and protests of police brutality, but still … this is important too! You’re right … under this administration, LGBT rights are endangered, for one of the things Trump’s supporters hope for is a reversal of Obergefell v Hodges. Hugs, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m glad I was a helpful reminder! There’s a lot going on in the world, for sure. And I definitely understand that it is difficult to write a cheerful post now, especially given all that’s going on. And that includes people living in places where they don’t feel safe being out with their families.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. We do keep picking the completely wrong leaders. The systems are rigged towards them. Just changing one or two of these would not achieve anything. We get the occasional enlightened leader but then back to the same old…. Pulling down statues although symbolic won’t damage the status quo. The whole system has to be pulled down.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m thinking you may well be right about that. Replacing one or two is rather like putting a bandaid on a broken leg. But, if people don’t start taking our environment more seriously and be willing to make personal sacrifices, then our governments won’t likely matter much by the end of this century. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a good time to compare the fight against racism to the fight to freedom of sexual orientation. Racism has been being fought for hundreds of years, but 2020 is demanding clear sight that skin colour has no bearing on being human.
    Pride Month and Black History Month should not be necessities, but yet they still are. What in the world is wrong with people! Why are there still leaders of nations like Trumplestiltskin and BOris JOhnson, Putin, Kim, Bolsonaro, and all their kind.
    Has the Covid-19 Pandemic not taught us WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.

    All life matters…

    Liked by 6 people

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