A Colourful History: 50 Years of LQBTQ+
The Stonewell Inn is a name that has become synonymous with the inception of Pride and Pride Parades. The catalyst occurred at 1:20am on the 28th of June 1969 when New York City’s ‘finest’ raided the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan. The raid in itself was not unheard of, as the Stonewall Inn was operating without a valid liquor license. However, the New York State Liquor Authority was largely discriminatory in its issuing of liquor licences in the state, and refused to issue licences to establishments known to serve or cater to gay patrons. The events of June 28th 1969 set in motion what would come to be known as Pride and Pride Month, as the actions of the police and the subsequent societal reaction and solidarity with the LBGQT community paved the way for a much more significant movement that would have a far reaching impact.
The Stonewall Inn represented a sanctuary, and was in essence and one of the few ‘institutions’ for those who had been rejected from society for being queer, gay, drag queens, homeless or ‘othered’ for a multitude of reasons. The Stonewall Inn was a safe-haven to many, and the “violent attack on this sacred bar that many called home was the breaking point for those looking to advance LGBT political activism” (History Channel, 2019). The 28th of June 1969 and the five days directly after led to what would come to be known as the Stonewall Riots, which led to a much bigger, planned action – a march that was to be held exactly a year after the Stonewall Inn raid to commemorate it and to keep up the wave of political and social activism that it had sparked.
Brenda Howard, a known ‘”grassroots activist” was the woman who played a prominent role in planning the march, however it was fellow planning committee member L. Craig Schoonmaker who came up with the slogan for the event. It was Schoonmaker’s observation that while gay individuals had very little power to enact change at the time, something they did have though was pride. As Schoonmaker noted at a later stage, “a lot of people were very repressed, they were conflicted internally, and didn’t know how to come out and be proud. That’s how the movement was most useful, because they thought, ‘Maybe I should be proud.’” The official chant for the march became, “Say it loud, gay is proud.” The march was the first of its kind, especially in magnitude and inspired similar efforts in Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Fifty years on, Pride is now celebrated in over 174 cities and 46 countries worldwide, but where do we stand worldwide in terms of the ‘State Of Pride for the global LGBQTIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual) community? Same-sex marriage is still illegal in 167 countries, and legal in 28 countries, while the right to change a person’s legal gender is legal in 90 countries and illegal in 20. This June, many will come together to celebrate Pride Month and how far the movement has come and how far it still has to go.