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Everything You Need to Know About Pride Month

Starting with the Stonewall Uprising in June 1969, Pride Month both commemorates and celebrates LGBTQ activism and culture through the years

By VenuPublished 12 months ago 4 min read

June is Pride Month, and though the LGBTQ+ community continues to face an uphill battle — the ACLU reports there are currently 491 pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being floated around the U.S. — there is still much to celebrate.

According to the Library of Congress, the month recognizes the impact that the community has had on U.S. history. President Bill Clinton first designated it as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month on June 11, 1999, with President Barack Obama proclaiming it Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month 10 years later.

Read on for more about Pride, and why it continues to be an important part of U.S. history.

What Is Pride Month?

Pride Month is an entire month dedicated to the uplifting of LGBTQ voices, celebration of LGBTQ culture and the support of LGBTQ rights. Throughout the month of June, nationwide, there have traditionally been parades, protests, drag performances, live theater and memorials and celebrations of life for members of the community who lost their lives to HIV/AIDS. It is part political activism, part celebration of all the LGBTQ community has achieved over the years.

What Is the Pride Symbol?

You probably knew that the rainbow flag — created by artist Gilbert Baker in 1978 — is used as a symbol of LGBTQ pride, but did you know that each color on the flag has its own meaning? In the widely known six-color flag, red is symbolic of life, orange is symbolic of healing, yellow is sunshine, green is nature, blue represents harmony and purple is spirit. In the original eight-color flag, hot pink was included to represent sex and turquoise to represent magic/art.

There have been many variations on the flag. In 2021, the flag has was altered in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests, including black to represent diversity, brown to represent inclusivity and light blue and pink, the colors of the trans pride flag.

Why Do We Celebrate in June?

We celebrate in June to coincide with the catalyst of the Gay Liberation Movement that was the Stonewall Uprising. In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, police raided a popular gay bar in N.Y.C.'s West Village, The Stonewall Inn. This was commonplace for the time, but on this particular evening, the patrons of the bar fought back, starting the Stonewall Riots, which went on for days.

The Stonewall Inn was declared a historic landmark by the city of New York in 2015 and later named a national monument by President Barack Obama in 2016.

This June is the 53rd anniversary of the first Pride parade, which happened in 1970, one year after the uprising.

“As a proud transgender American, I feel that pride is more important than ever this year," Sham Ibrahim, TV personality from MTV's Catfish, tells PEOPLE. "Our community has had to fight hard against discrimination in the past, and 2023 is no different. While we have made so much progress since the days of Stonewall, discrimination still exists — especially against the transgender community."

Who Were the Major Figures Involved?

Marsha P. Johnson is often credited with throwing the first punch at the Stonewall Inn (though there are many prominent figures who are also rumored to have done so). She was a Black trans woman celebrating her 25th birthday at the time of the riots and a tour de force in the gay community. She died in 1992 at just 46 years old after police found her body in the Hudson River — her death was initially ruled a suicide, despite friends and loved ones insisting that could not be the case.

Sylvia Rivera was an activist and self-professed drag queen who also played a part in the Stonewall Riots. She fought for transgender rights alongside Marsha P. Johnson, creating S.T.A.R. (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) to help house homeless LGBTQ youth. She advocated for transgender rights until her death in 2002.

Stormé DeLarverie was a gay rights activist and drag performer who was also at Stonewall when it was raided that night. Her friend, Lisa Cannistraci, told the New York Times upon her death in 2014, “Nobody knows who threw the first punch, but it’s rumored that she did, and she said she did. She told me she did.”

Here are some easy ways to celebrate Pride:

March! Past years saw many Pride celebrations canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year many Pride marches are going forward in-person. Just make sure to check your state and local guidelines. This year's Pride theme is "Peace, Love Revolution. "Remember, Pride started as a protest!" Ibrahim says. "Even if you are not a member of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s important to stand in solidarity with your fellow Americans and show support!”

Get involved. Whether it's working for a phone or text bank or attending town halls virtually, make your voice known! "The easiest way to celebrate pride is to stand up and be counted," Ibrahim adds to PEOPLE. "Show your pride the old-fashioned way by attending a pride parade or by posting on social media!"

Donate! A few organizations you can contribute to are: The Human Rights Campaign, The Trevor Project, The Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, The National Center for Trans Equality, GLSEN, The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network and so many more.

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    VenuWritten by Venu

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