The History of LGBTQ+ Pride and Allyship

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A shot of Pride Parade-goers in colorful costumes

Today, LGBTQ+ Pride celebrations take a variety of forms, such as parades, parties, proms, and protests. Since the beginning of the modern LGBTQ+ liberation movement, a multitude of Pride celebrations and events have sprung up around the world. However, each occasion is tied in some way to the Stonewall Riots that took place in New York City on June 28th, 1969.

Though the world is migrating towards increasing acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community, discrimination is still a stark reality. The Natural Library of Medicine (NIH) mentions that 57% of LGBTQ+ adults have endured slurs, 51% report experiencing sexual harassment, and 51% have faced violence due to their sexual orientation. Showing allyship with the LGBTQ+ community remains vital for a kinder, more inclusive future.

The History of Pride Month

While the event of the Stonewall Riots was not the first occurrence of LGBTQ+ resistance against police harassment, it is the most well-known. Before Stonewall, a riot took place in San Francisco at Compton’s Cafeteria and another took place in Los Angeles at Cooper Do-Nuts. Each event in LGBTQ+ history laid the groundwork for what the Stonewall Riots solidified: PRIDE as we know it today.

A Look at the Stonewall Riots

In 1967, the Stonewall Inn opened as a gay club in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood. Though much of the nation had become more accepting of gays, New York was notorious for its strict enforcement of anti-homosexual laws that made it difficult for gay individuals to congregate in public.

The mafia controlled a multitude of bars and clubs in Manhattan during this time. To get around New York state regulations that prohibited gay people from being served alcohol, a young member of the Genovese family named Tony Lauria, or “Fat Tony,” ran the Stonewall Inn. While the Stonewall Inn was far from being the nicest gay bar in Greenwich Village, it was one of the only places the gay community could get together and dance.

During the 1960s, the gay rights movement was building momentum around the nation with the LGBTQ+ community clashing with police in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and many other cities.1 The Mattachine Society, an early national gay rights organization, helped put a stop to police entrapment, but police still raided bars and bathhouses.

On Tuesday, June 28th, the police raided the Stonewall Inn. Word of the riots swept the city with 500-600 people showing up the first night. But on Friday of that week, an estimated 2,000 individuals congregated outside the bar.2

Members of the crowd held hands in a display of public affection and chanted “We Want Freedom Now,” “Gay Power,” and “Christopher Street Belongs to the Queens.”3 To block off Christopher Street, they formed a human chain and turned over a car.

21 people were arrested during the riots and many were injured, but the spark for change had ignited. On June 28th, 1970, many people returned to the streets of Greenwich Village for the first Christopher Street Liberation Day march. The march became an annual event and ultimately evolved into the Pride Parade.

The Pride Parade Then and Now

Within the first years of the Pride Parade, the energy of the LGBTQ+ community was contained to the small area of Christopher Street. Today, millions of people attend the parade to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community.

It took activists months to organize the first Pride Parade. They maintained that there would be no regulation on age or what marchers wore. During this period, many LGBTQ+ activists held walks and vigils, but they were silent and kept mostly to themselves. The newly proposed Pride Parade would showcase different personalities and a vibrancy that LGBTQ+ individuals often kept hidden.

The activists in charge of the Pride Parade organized many events during the week of the celebration to take advantage of the interest in activism and newly formed organizations. The march’s official chant was elected to be, “Say it Clear, Say it Now. Gay is Good, Gay is Proud,” and those attending the parade would yell the chant for 51 blocks.

A black & white photo taken at the Christoper Street Gay Liberation Day Parade, 1970

Photo Source: NBC News

Today, the Pride Parade has transformed into Pride Month with events taking place around the world in June. In 2019, these countries held Pride festivities:

  • America
  • Brazil
  • Amsterdam
  • Austria
  • Taiwan
  • Czech Republic
  • Russia

To learn more about Pride Month’s 2021 events taking place near you, click here.

Discrimination Against The LGBTQ+ Community

Over the last decade, the United States has made strides towards LGBTQ+ equality. However, the community still faces widespread discrimination. Between 11% and 28% of LGBTQ+ people report losing a promotion due to their sexual orientation, and 27% of transgender employees say they’ve been fired, not hired, or denied a promotion. While LGBTQ+ individuals face a staggering amount of discrimination at the workplace, they also endure it in other aspects of their lives, such as losing their homes, access to education, and the ability to engage in public life.

Only 46% of lesbian, gay, and bi individuals and 47% of trans people feel comfortable disclosing  their sexual orientation to their families, and more than 1 in 10 LGBTQ+ members have faced domestic abuse from their partners. Additionally, 1 in 5 LGBT individuals has experienced a hate crime due to sexual orientation, while 2 in 5 trans people have also endured hate crimes.4

A survey administered by the Center for American Progress (CAP) found that 1 in 4 LGBTQ+ people faced discrimination in 2017.5 The study also mentioned that many LGBTQ+ individuals often make significant changes to their everyday lives to avoid discrimination.

 

A chart showing how the fear of discrimination shapes LGBT people's lives
Currently, 72 countries criminalize same-sex relationships, and for the punishment of these relationships, the death penalty is deemed acceptable, or evidence of its existence exists in 8 countries.6 Additionally, 25% of the world’s population believes that being LGBTQ+ should be a crime.7

These statistics reflect the hardships that many LGBTQ+ members face every day. While the world is moving towards greater tolerance, outright discrimination based on personal beliefs and religious dogma are major hurdles to true acceptance. By taking steps to gain awareness for the key issues affecting marginalized populations such as the LGBTQ+ community and committing to allyship, you can be part of the social movement to drive meaningful change.

What You Can Do To Show Allyship

What does being an ally to the LGBTQ+ community mean exactly? An ally seeks to understand the challenges that LGBTQ+ people experience daily, such as heterosexism, bi-prejudice, trans-prejudice, and heterosexual privilege. An ally feels strong concern for LGBTQ+ individuals and acts to bring true support, acceptance, and advocacy for equal rights and fair treatment.

Here are a few ways you can show allyship to the LGBTQ+ community:

  • Become informed. Ask questions, do research, and don’t be afraid to be honest about what you don’t know. Strive to stay up to date on LGBTQ+ news.
  • Support equality. Champion policies in your workplace or school that aid in protecting LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination. Some issues may seem small, but they can make a significant impact on people’s lives.
  • Use your voice. Share what you know about the LGBTQ+ community to spread understanding. Let others know that anti-LGBTQ+ jokes or statements are not okay. Speak up with the courtesy of allowing LGBTQ+ members to stand up for themselves first.
  • Network for greater impact. Consider joining pro-LGBTQ+ groups online. You’ll find like-minded people who can work together to ignite greater change.
  • Appreciate language nuances. Ask for preferred pronouns and terms when describing someone. Try not to assume someone’s gender or sexual orientation. Here’s a helpful vocabulary glossary you can refer to for guidance.
  • Listen to others. Engage with many different people within the LGBTQ+ to learn about their unique experiences. Ask questions, such as what it was like growing up, what the coming out process was like, pet peeves, and how you can best support them.
  • Say goodbye to historical messaging. Become familiar with LGBTQ+ history and challenge stereotypes. Unpack the areas of history that have the LGBTQ+ community wrong. Always ask yourself this question: “Does this reflect the people I know that are in the LGBTQ+ community today?”

Humanist Beauty Strives for Allyship

We recognize that the word ‘ally’ must be earned and never self-ascribed. As such, we are striving to do the work every day to foster inclusion among all humans regardless of color, gender, creed, age, status, ability, or sexual preference. To us, the LGBTQ+ community needs our care and support, particularly vulnerable youth who often struggle in isolation. As such, we will be donating funds to the notable Trevor Project, a highly reputable non-profit organization that provides trained counseling 24/7 for LGBTQ+ teens in crisis. You can learn more about the Trevor Project at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/.

 

https://www.lgbtqhistory.org/lgbt-rights-timeline-in-american-history/ [1]

https://www.history.com/news/stonewall-riots-timeline [2]

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/01/an-amazing-1969-account-of-the-stonewall-uprising/272467/ [3]

https://www.americanprogress.org/press/release/2017/05/02/431672/release-cap-study-shows-one-four-lgbt-people-faced-discrimination-last-year-many-make-significant-changes-lives-avoid-discrimination/ [5]

https://www.stonewall.org.uk/cy/node/24594 [6][7]

Summary
The History of LGBTQ+ Pride and Allyship
Article Name
The History of LGBTQ+ Pride and Allyship
Description
From the Stonewall Riots to modern day Pride Month celebrations, this article shares a glimpse of history and how to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community.
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Humanist Beauty
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