LGBTQ Pride Month is celebrated every year in June. This tradition began in honor of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the U.S. It was originally celebrated as Gay Pride Day on the last Sunday in June. However, the day grew to encompass a month-long series of events in major cities across the country.
Pride celebrations, including parades, concerts, parties, picnics, and workshops, attract millions worldwide. Memorials are also held for community members who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS or hate crimes. The purpose of Pride Month is to recognize the impact on local, national, and international history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.
Pride Month Official Recognition
President Bill Clinton was the first to recognize Pride Month in 1999 and 2000 officially. President Barack Obama declared June LGBT Pride Month.
LGBT History Month
A coalition of educational organizations in the U.S. designated October as LGBT History Month in 1994. In 1995, a resolution was passed by the General Assembly of the National Education Association that included LGBT History Month within a list of commemorative months. October 11 is National Coming Out Day. In addition, the LGBTQ community commemorates the first march on Washington during LGBT History Month.
Annual Pride Traditions
On June 28, 1970, the first anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, the first Pride march was held in New York City. The Stonewall Uprising of 1969 was a series of events between LGBTQ protesters and the police which continued for six days. Plainclothes police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village. This resulted in a riot on Christopher Street outside the club, involving bar staff, patrons, and neighborhood residents. The protesters sent a clear message, demanding establishments where LGBT people could be open about their sexual orientation without fear of being arrested.
An estimated 3,000 to 5,000 marchers participated in the inaugural Pride in New York City in 1970 to commemorate the uprising. Today, millions of people march with Pride in June, demonstrating equal rights. The New York City parade is one of the largest and most well-known globally, with over two million people participating in 2019.
Mother of Pride
Credit for starting Pride Month is primarily given to bisexual activist Brenda Howard. She organized Gay Pride Week and the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade to take place a year after the Stonewall Uprising. This parade was a catalyst for similar marches and parades throughout the world. Brenda Howard is known as the “Mother of Pride.”
To organize the parade and first gay pride week, she met a committee at the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop at 15 Christopher Street – the first gay and lesbian bookstore in America. They got the word out about the parade using the bookstore’s mailing list.