Why is June Pride Month?
I have seen this tweet circulating throughout the month and wanted to take the time to acknowledge how MONUMENTAL the LGBTQ+ community has been to multiple Civil Rights movements in history. Yes, June is Pride Month, but don’t let it be the only time you love the LGBTQ+ community or show them the love they DESERVE.
Why is June Pride Month? Here’s a brief highlight:
New York had a growing LGBTQ+ population of bars in Greenwich Village. Members of the LGBTQ+ community would gather to share a space, a beautiful space. A space of acceptance. A space of freedom. A space to be themselves.
At this point in history, to come out would often be met with a negative outcome. To be ridiculed. To be beaten. To be kicked out of the house and left to live on the streets.
Now, the 60s as a whole were pretty impactful for Civil Rights in the United States. Tired of the status quo, minority groups were seeing the strength in numbers to stand up for and advocate for their rights. Their rights to be treat equally to their counterparts among the dominant group. Their rights be treated as human beings.
A group of police officers called the “Public Morals Squad” who received their orders directly from the mayor to shut down the gay bars. It was not uncommon for many establishments creating space for members of the LGBTQ community to be raided. On the night of June 28, 1969, Charles Smythe and Seymour Pine led the raid of the Stonewall Inn. Standard procedure was to line up the patrons, check their identification, and have female police officers take customers dressed as women to the bathroom to verify their sex, upon which any people appearing to be physically male and dressed as women would be arrested. Those dressed as women that night refused to go with the officers. Men in line began to refuse to produce their identification. The police decided to take everyone present to the police station, after separating those cross-dressing in a room in the back of the bar. Things began to get violent as police attempted to restrain the crowd, pushing down a few people in the process.
Marsha P. Johnson, a Black transgender woman would take the train from New Jersey to New York to go to Stonewall. That night would be the night Marsha cemented her place in history. Amid the chaos and the struggles, Marsha would stand up and throw the “shot glass heard around the world” (There has since been speculation of if it was a shot glass or a brick). It was at this point it had clicked: there was more of them than were the Public Morals Squad. There was a community of them. The nights of June 28th and 29th would be what we now refer to as the Stonewall Uprising.
Marsha would team up with her friend Sylvia Rivera to found the Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries (STAR) organization to provide housing and support to homeless queer youth and sex workers in Lower Manhattan.
The following year, thousands gathered participate in the Christopher Street Liberation Day March. We know this today as Pride.
Love is love. Black lives matter. There should be no debate about it.
We still have ways to go.