The History of Pride and Why we should all care
Updated: Nov 16
Every year in June, companies start tweeting vague slogans about love and brands start selling merchandise plastered with rainbows in honour of Pride month. What was meant to be a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, has turned into a profit-making exercise designed to show that the company in question is on the right side of history, fighting the good fight. As a result, people see pride everywhere in multicoloured hearts and corny slogans, but they do not understand what its true significance.
So, what is Pride?
To know this, we must go back to the 28th of June 1969, the night the Stonewall Inn was raided. The Stonewall Inn in New York was a bar frequented members of the New York LGBT community at a time when being gay was illegal and the community faced much discrimination. On the night in question, the police emptied the bar of around two hundred people and assaulted some of the very people they were duty bound to protect. This sparked outrage among the community who had become fed up with the constant harassment, prejudice, and discrimination. In response, community leaders such as Marsha P. Johnson and Slyvia Riveria organised protests and riots to proclaim to the world that they were no longer staying quiet in face of this ignorance and hatred. Incredibly, the world heard their proclamation as people across the world joined the fight for equality. A month later, New York hosted the first openly gay march, a huge triumph for a community so embattled. Other countries followed suit with the first UK Pride festival taking three years later with around two thousand participants- quite different from the millions that attend in recent years.
And so began Pride, a time of celebration, acceptance and love born from years of hurt, pain, and discrimination- a fact that people oftentimes forget. Pride is a period for the LGBTQ+ community to feel truly themselves and express themselves in a way that they have not always been able to as is their right. Yet, there exists this belief that the community is too loud, too outspoken for what is there left to fight for? Progress has been made and the fight is over, right? Right?
Well, that is only partially true. Since the Stonewall Inn raid, the fight for equality has had some significant wins. In the UK, gay people are now can now join the army, adopt children, and most recently get married. However, let us looks closely at those facts now. These progressive moves were implemented in the years 2000, 2002 and 2013, respectively. The wheels of change do turn slowly indeed. All these progressive changes were hard won after years of campaigning and protesting. Furthermore, homophobic hates crimes have increased significantly since the legalisation of gay marriage, highlighting that while the law is changing, albeit at a snail like pace, toxic, homophobic attitudes are still prevalent in the wider public.
Therefore, Pride month is still relevant. The fight for equality is not over for the LGBTQ+ community who still face discrimination and prejudicial attitudes. We must all actively become allies to this community for equality is not a part time gig but a full-time service. It is not enough to place a rainbow flag and repost some vague message about love, but to truly educate yourself on their struggle, support the community in their times of need but also when in their times of celebration and joy. So sure, buy that t-shirt but do not forget the history behind or the ongoing fight
Would you like to take part in a pride event? Here is a link to all the events in the UK: