Vans, Levi’s, Converse, Calvin Klein, and Gap are some of the many household names that have launched rainbow-colored collections to celebrate Pride Month 2021. While it is wonderful that large corporations are embracing the LGBTQIA+ community, it is important to acknowledge the chain of events and the long list of individuals who have contributed to what Pride is today. Here is an abridged timeline of the history of pride.
In 1950, homosexuals in the Los Angeles area formed the Mattachine Society as a means of advancing the cause of gay men and lesbian women in addition to providing a social outlet for the gay community. In 1953, they later changed their mission to assimilating the gay community into mainstream society. Simultaneously, several lesbian women in San Francisco founded the Daughter of Bilitis (DOB), a group with a similar mission to the Mattachine Society.
In 1952, the American Psychiatric Association included homosexuality as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). This act widely discredited the gay community and effectively silenced many people struggling with their sexual identity.
Throughout the 50s and 60s, members of the gay community faced discrimination at the legislative level. Aside from Illinois, every state had laws in place that prohibited homosexual sex, even within the privacy of the home. “An adult convicted of the crime of having sex with another consenting adult in the privacy of his or her home could get anywhere from a light fine to five, ten, or twenty years—or even life—in prison. In 1971, twenty states had 'sex psychopath' laws that permitted the detaining of homosexuals for that reason alone” (Carter 2004).
The Stonewall Riots were a series of protests and demonstrations incited by the police raid of the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City in 1969. The police raid on the Stonewall Inn was not a unique occurrence, as the New York City Police Department performed routine raids on gay bars throughout the 60s, however it served as the tipping point for many Greenwich residents. They finally banded together to form activist groups that sought to establish places where people could express themselves without the fear of being arrested. The Stonewall Riots are often viewed as the keystone of the gay liberation movement.
One year after the uprising, parades sprung up in New York City and San Francisco to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. The theme of the parades were “gay pride,” a counterpoint to the prevailing shame that many members of the gay community were forced to endure.
In 1999, President Bill Clinton declared the month of June "Gay & Lesbian Pride Month." Two Presidents, Barack Obama and Joe Biden, have also declared June as Pride month.
While the gay liberation movement had gained major traction by this point, the gay community still faced many legal obstacles in the 2000s. In 2003, the Lawrence decision decriminalized certain intimate sexual conduct between two consenting adults.
In 2015 the Obergefell decision required states to issue same-sex marriage licenses and recognize same-sex marriage licenses from other jurisdictions.
In 2020, the Bostock ruling protected employees from being discriminated against on account of being homosexual or transgender.
Over 50 years after the Stonewall Riots, there is a wide variety of Pride celebrations around the world. If you want to promote Pride in a jubilant fashion alongside thousands of other proud individuals, attend a city parade! The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association has a calendar of international Pride events, so you can find one near you. Alternatively, you can find community forums to attend or travel to the biennial World Parade. However, you choose to celebrate, remember that Pride is far more than just rainbows.
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