Throughout the history of the United States, major changes happened through protest. From the start of the War for Independence to modern day protests against police brutality, Americans have spoken out and taken action to make a difference. The same is true for Pride and the LGBTQ+ movement.
June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month. While Pride has come to mean different things to different people, it is generally viewed as a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and the strides that have been made towards equality. Yet the original reason for Pride is a bit different: a commemoration of the Stonewall Uprising.
On June 28, 1969, New York City police raided a gay club on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn. At the time, engaging in “gay behavior” in public was a crime in the state, so holding hands, dancing, or kissing someone of the same sex could lead to arrest. New York also had a law on gender-appropriate clothing, which allowed police to arrest transgender men and women as well as individuals who cross-dressed. When the police began dragging patrons and employees out of the Stonewall Inn, both patrons and neighborhood residents watched, growing increasingly angry at the violence shown by the police. Soon, two trans women of color — Martha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera — kicked off the uprising. Hundreds of people joined in, throwing pennies, bottles, cobble stones and other objects. The protests continued for 6 days, including some violent clashes with the police outside of the bar.
The Stonewall Uprising sparked a call to action that turned into a movement. Before Stonewall, LGBTQ Americans largely wanted to fit in and to not rock the boat. After Stonewall, the polite requests for equality changed to angry demands. The Gay Liberation Front formed in the weeks after Stonewall, leading to a wave of activism across the country, including the formation of the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) and the Lavender Menace. In June 1970, one year after the uprising, the first Pride parade took place on Christopher Street in New York City to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising. Fifty years later, we continue to celebrate Pride with parades, festivals, concerts and more.
As protests against police brutality continue across the country and the world, it is important to remember that true systemic change often starts with this type of action. While LGBTQ+ people are still fighting for equality, there can be no doubt that the frustration that boiled over on that night in New York City was a catalyst for change. In the same way, the outrage over the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and countless other Black women, men and children are sparking a reckoning in the United States.
As an organization devoted to ending violence of all types, we know that true change is rarely easy, is often messy, and takes time. We ask you to stand with us in solidarity with the Black community during this time, and to challenge the system of white supremacy that has resulted in the murder of Black people at the hands of police, vigilantes, and others.
If you want to take action, you can start with this list. You can also contact your local government to ask them to implement the eight policies that have been proven to reduce police killings by 72% (known as #8CantWait).
As always, if your life has been affected by violence, we are here for you. Contact us anytime at 1-888-836-1122 to talk to someone today.