Quick History of Pride

Pride is a celebration of support and recognition of how far the LGBT+ community and its allies have come; it has taken time to gain the empowerment and freedom that we have today. The pride parade is in remembrance of the Stonewall riots, where gay rights activists and police officers confronted outside of a gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, located in Greenwich New York City. The riots, starting on June 28th, 1969 was the birthplace of the LGBT+ movement. New York police officers went into the bar to arrest the employees for selling without a liquor license and anyone not wearing at least three items of ‘gender appropriate’ clothing items, per New York law. Police went on to assault the bars patrons for ‘soliciting homosexual relations’ another illegal act in New York, 1969. Stonewall was one of three gay bars that had been raided in Greenwich within a short time.

The first raid on Stonewall had not caused many of the patrons to flee as the prior two raids (on other gay bars in the area) had. The patrons began to throw bottles at the police, who retaliated by immediately calling to reinforcements and barricade themselves within the bar. During the riot, the police barricaded was broken and the bar was set on fire. Once the reinforcements arrived the fires were put out and the 400 rioters where eventually dispersed. Though this was not the end as riots continued for five days. After this event Stonewall became a symbol of resistance to the discrimination experienced by the LGBT community. Historians mark this event as the catalyst for a new generation of political activism.

It was not until 1978 that the rainbow flag that became synonymous with Gay Pride was used. The flag had eight colors and was designed by a San Francisco artis Gilber Baker; the eight colors symbolized sexuality (pink), life (red), healing (orange), Sun (Yellow), nature (green), art (blue), harmony (indigo), and spirit (Violet). It had been later adopted into the six-colored flag that is commonly used consisting of red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. By the 1980s, in part due to the AIDs epidemic, Pride became a movement for social activism and politics. In the following years Pride support grew and politics began to take notice. It took until the 1990s for the LGBT+ community to see media visibility and by 1999 President Bill Clinton issued a proclamation that June was to be known as Gay and Lesbian Pride month. In 2008 under President Barack Obama broadened on Clinton’s proclamation to the entirety of the LGBT+ community creating Pride month as we know it today.

Ground is still being covered and LGBT activists are still fighting oppression. On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court finally stuck all bans on same sex marriage. Now same sex marriage is federally recognized, and all states must recognize same sex marriage licenses. There are still ongoing battles, Kansas has proposed restrictions on Same sex couples adopting children and even tried to classify same sex marriage as ‘less than’ a heterosexual marriage. None of these legislators have been passed but it is a battle to constantly be fighting. Anti-LGBT+ activities such as conversion ‘therapy’ are still legal in most of the US, despite the research linking this activity to depression, anxiety, and the high rates of suicide seen by the LGBT+ community. There has been and will be incredible steps in the right directions, but these efforts will be pushed at every step. The Activism that pride has started is still relevant today.


Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (2019, June 21). Gay Pride. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Gay-Pride

Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (2020, June 21). Stonewall riots. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/event/Stonewall-riots

Haynes, S. (2020, June 26). What’s CHANGED-AND What Hasn’t-in 50 years of pride parades. Retrieved March 31, 2021, from https://time.com/5858086/pride-parades-history/

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