Members of the LGBTQ community are still fighting for equality today. Gay pride celebrations are now week long festivities that allow members of the LGBT community and their supporters to be out and stay out and show their pride for being the human being that they are. Here are some facts you may or may not know about the history of how gay pride evolved in the United States. We hope that by learning about the fight for our equality as human beings that you will find new insight and understanding and support the LGBT community in their continued battle for the basic human rights that everyone should be able to enjoy without fear.
The Stonewall Inn Riots
In 1969, it was considered a mental disorder to be gay, lesbian, bi, etc. among the medical community. It was also illegal for members of the LGBT community to meet and socialize in public places. Members of the LGBT community and supporters would meet in private places instead in order to socialize. One of these places was the Stonewall Inn located in Manhattan, a meeting place also known to law enforcement to be LGBT friendly. In 1969, a raid occurred at the Inn and members of the LGBT community and supporters were arrested, jailed and were victims of police brutality. A year later, the Christopher Street Liberation Day (CSLD) March was held in New York. LGBT members and supporters marched in honor of the victims of the Stonewall Inn riots. This was the beginning for gay pride parades.
The Rainbow Flag Has Meaning
The six-striped flag that you see members and supporters of the LGBT community waving actually has meaning. The first rainbow flag flew in 1978 at a gay pride parade in San Francisco after it was created by Gilbert Baker. The original flag had eight stripes, but two were removed when the demand for the flag rose after the assassination of gay rights advocate Harvey Milk. During the original making of the flag, Baker designated each color a meaning. Red signifies life, orange signifies healing, yellow signifies sunlight, green signifies nature, turquoise signifies magic/art, indigo signifies serenity/harmony and violet signifies spirit. These flags are widely seen during pride events but also are flown in homes, businesses and other public places to show their acceptance, support and safety for members, families & allies of the gay community.
In recent years, additional flags representing a further subset of the gay community have been more visible in and around the community. We’ll have future articles talking about what some of these symbols and flags represent.
LGBTQ Political Acknowledgment
Since the beginning of the marches that have turned into week long gay pride events, only two sitting United States Presidents have ever acknowledged Gay Pride Month. One President simply acknowledged the month of June as as Gay Pride Month officially, while the other lit up the White House in Washington, D.C. with the beautiful colors of the rainbow flag to show support for the LGBT community. No other President of the United States to sit in office has acknowledged Gay Pride Month.
The Largest Pride Parade
The largest pride parade in the world takes place in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Each year, the celebration here keeps growing. The first pride parade took place in 1997 and had a mere 2,000 LGBT members and their supporters attend. In 2006, approximately 2.5 million LGBTQ members and their supporters were in attendance, making it the largest gay pride event in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records, which they broke in 2009 with a staggering 4 million attendees. Interestingly, these numbers continue to grow with an estimated 5 million attending in 2017. Current estimation show at between 4 – 5 million attending this pride event each year.
Pride celebrations have been endorsed by many LGBTQ friendly organizations. Some of the biggest contributors are well-known banking institutions and department stores. These establishments are known to spend approximately one million dollars per year to show their support for the LGBTQ community during the week of gay pride and throughout the year. This support provides the means necessary to carry on free week long events that provide outreach and gain support from and for the gay community. Sexuality and gender do not define what it means to be a human being. Members of the LGBTQ community are just as human as straight members of the community. They should not have to hide. They should not live in fear. They should have the same rights and freedoms that everyone is allowed. Everyone is entitled to be proud of who they are. Pride leads to happiness! The LGBTQ community continues to need straight allies who are willing to show their acceptance and support too!