Pride Month parties, parades, and protests have been spreading over the world since the 1970s when LGBTQ+ liberation entered the mainstream, now resulting in just over 50 years of Pride history. From the gigantic city-wide celebrations to the smallest local prom, different regions show their pride differently.
How did Pride Month become the staple movement that it is today? Consider these highlights of Pride history to better understand what it means in 2021.
The Early History of Pride Month
Pride month traces its roots, as many celebrations do, to violent stands against authority. The Stonewall Riots, and the lesser-known Compton’s Cafeteria Riot in San Francisco, mark the most well-documented early protests against LGBTQ+ harassment.
The Stonewall Riots originated a lot of the language that Pride protestors now use to spread their message. They began at the Stonewall Inn, a well-known front for the Genovese crime family that also happened to be the only gay bar in the city where dancing was allowed.
The conflict between the police, the bribes (Stonewall had no liquor license), and the tangles of Mafia ownership eventually resulted in police, no longer on the blackmail payroll, raiding the inn.
The intense confrontation began as police arrested patrons and angry onlookers began fighting back, forcing the police to retreat. Their resistance at the inn led to a march on Central Park where the concept of “Gay Pride” was adopted as a rallying cry.
This march is often considered the proper beginning of Pride Month, as more and more people joined in from other cities to parade, celebrate, and protest, not only against this one event, but against the standards of the time that made it happen in the first place.
Pride Month Today
The international organization called InterPride was founded to manage these protests throughout the world. They keep a calendar of the major events and fund organizations in dozens of major cities to carry out their marches at the allotted time.
Today, there is a huge commercial influence on Pride Month activities from many overlapping interests. Corporate logos from sponsors have been appearing on Pride banners and products with increasing frequency. Politicians and companies now also claim a stake in the events, with mega-corporations like Google running its own local Pride events. You can even buy Pride fries at McDonald’s.
For many protestors, the integration of corporate and political sponsorship has taken away from the original intent of Pride Month. Many feel that “commodifying awareness” has led to rights issues being put on the back burner of an ad-driven annual event that is now as regularly commercialized as Christmas.
This Pride Month, they urge people to remember what it actually means and what real change looks like. They hope people will continue to take a stance for what they believe in, regardless of whether it has a McDonald’s logo or not.
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