By Annika Tomlin
June is known as LGBTQ+ Pride Month, and arriving at this celebration was a road of ups and down. Here are 11 facts about its history.
11. Mother of Pride
Brenda Howard, a Bronx-born bisexual woman, organized the Christopher Street Liberation Day March. She’s hailed as one of the 20th century’s leading voices in bisexual rights and equality. Her outspokenness led to multiple arrests for civil disobedience.
10. Gay rights before LGBTQ+ Pride Month
In 1924, Henry Gerber, a German immigrant, founded the Society for Human Rights in Chicago. It was the first documented group to campaign for gay rights in the United States.
9. Transgender Pride Flag
American trans woman Monica Helms created the transgender flag in 1999. Displayed first at a Phoenix Pride event in 2000, the flag boasts light blue stripes for boys, followed by pink stripes representing girls and white in the middle for those who are transitioning or consider themselves having a neutral or undefined gender.
8. Official proclamation
In 1999, President Bill Clinton was the first to sign an official proclamation declaring June Gay & Lesbian Pride Month. He repeated it in 2000. Presidents George. W. Bush and Donald Trump did not submit an official proclamation, although Trump did acknowledge the month in a tweet. On June 1, 2011, President Barack Obama declared June to be LGBT Pride Month and to recognize bisexual and transgender individuals. President Joe Biden dubbed it LGBTQ+ Pride Month.
7. Not all pride happens in June
Several Southern states hold Pride parades in the fall to take advantage of the cooler weather. Others hold their events around National Coming Out Day on October 11.
6. The Rainbow Flag
Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag in 1978 following a request from gay politician Harvey Milk. The new flag marked a separation from the Nazi-based pink triangle. The original design of the rainbow flag included eight colors — hot pink/sex, red/life, orange/healing, yellow/sunlight, green/nature, turquoise/magic, indigo/serenity and violet/spirit. Now the flag only has six colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple).
5. Chicago birthplace of Gay Pride Parade
While the Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day March in New York is widely considered the first Pride parade, it actually occurred the day after the Chicago march. Both events were commemorating the Stonewall riots that happened the year prior.
4. College student changes Tucson law
College student Richard Heakin was an openly gay 21-year-old who came to Tucson from Nebraska to visit friends for a gay Pride event on June 6, 1976. Shortly after leaving the event at Stonewall Tavern, Heakin was beaten to death by four teenagers who were tried as juveniles and only received probation until they were 21. Following the court results, the city became one of the first in the nation to add sexual orientation to its anti-discrimination laws the following year.
3. LGBTQ uprising before Stonewall riots
A group of LGBTQ individuals, led by several transgender women, pelted officers with doughnuts, coffee and paper plates at Cooper Do-Nuts in Los Angeles in May 1959. The group was fed up with being mistreated by the police.
2. Pride wasn’t always called ‘Pride’
At its beginning, Pride events were more militant and often referred to as marches attached with common phrases such as “Gay Liberation” or “Gay Freedom.” As militancy decreased in the ’80s and ’90s, events moved toward a parade structure and the “Pride” language making it more of a celebration.
1. Stonewall riots
On June 28, 1969, police raided Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood in Lower Manhattan. Patrons at the Stonewall Inn, other village lesbian and gay bars, and neighborhood street people fought back when the police became violent. The riots lasted until July 3, becoming widely recognized as the event that transformed the gay liberation movement. CT