Updated 20 minutes ago. Posted 4 hours ago
When it comes to Gay Pride, there’s a lot to understand. Let the first thing be this: The celebrations that exist today are exclusively linked to the courage exhibited by trans and femme women of color who fought for queer rights in 1969.
Gay Pride as we know it today is a commemoration of the historic Stonewall riots, which began on June 28, 1969 and lasted until July 3, 1969.
Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans woman, is a central figure to the Stonewall riots of ’69. Without Johnson, Pride as it exists today would not be the same.
Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, a fellow member of the Gay Liberation Front, created the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, or STAR, in order to foster support for marginalized LGBTQ members who were left unsupported and vulnerable by organizations that favored privileged white members of the community.
At the time of the Stonewall riots, police officers were legally allowed to arrest men they perceived to be participating in drag. Police would often use this 19th-century masquerade law as an excuse to raid queer spaces in search of anyone “violating” anti-drag mandates. These raids were consistent, a clear demonstration of successive police brutality and discrimination against queer people — especially those who were most vulnerable.
During this time, the Stonewall Inn was known for providing sanctuary to drag queens and homeless LGBTQ youth. The violent (and routine) attacks on this place of refuge that night in 1969 proved the final straw for the queer inhabitants and activists of Stonewall.
In anticipation of the first march, for which leaders and organizers had no permit, would-be participants attended self-defense classes.
Organizers in Los Angeles were told by the police chief that their march for equality would inconvenience the public, and that they’d have to let “thieves and burglars” organize their own parade next.
Brenda Howard, a Bronx-born bisexual woman, is responsible for organizing the first Pride parade.
The term “gay pride” was derived from a common phrase used during the riots, which was “gay power” — in and of itself a derivative of the “Black power” movement happening around the same time. The word “power” was ultimately replaced with “pride” as the author of the slogan believed gay people possessed little to no actual power at the time.
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