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Pride Month and Its History

This June, we celebrated the 51st Pride Month.

Anousha Narayanan

Every June, Pride is celebrated as a way of coming together and commemorating the LGBTQ+ community’s fight for acceptance, justice and equality, as well as recognising how far the world has come in terms of LGBTQ+ rights. The celebration of Pride often consists of parades, festivals, concerts, marches, as well as memorials to honour those who lost their lives due to homophobia and transphobia.

The struggle for LGBTQ+ rights has been going on for decades, but the tipping point of the movement were the Stonewall riots in 1969. Stonewall Inn was a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York City. At the time, it was common for police officers to raid queer bars and harass their patrons. Stonewall Inn was one such bar. In the morning of June 28, 1969, NYC police officers raided the Stonewall Inn and attempted to clear the bar, arresting employees and patrons. Those in and around the bar were rightfully enraged, and began throwing coins and debris at the policemen in protest, eventually forcing them to barricade themselves inside the bar. Police reinforcements soon arrived at the scene, but the Stonewall riots continued in and around the bar for the next few days.

Some prominent figures in the Stonewall riots were Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, both trans women of colour. Marsha P. Johnson was celebrating her 25th birthday at the Stonewall Inn, and is credited with throwing the first punch when the riot started. However, it is also rumoured that the first punch was thrown by Stormé DeLarverie, a biracial lesbian who is known for being a singer and drag performer, as well as a prominent gay rights activist. Sylvia Rivera was a drag queen and a trans and gay rights activist who worked with Marsha P. Johnson to house homeless LGBTQ+ youth.

A few months after the fact, on November 2nd, the first Pride March was proposed. Set to take place on 28 June, 1970, the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, bisexual activist Brenda Howard and a committee put together by her organized the first march, from Stonewall Inn to Central Park. Initially, 28 June was celebrated as Pride Day but the celebrations eventually extended into the entire month of June.

Although Pride Month began in the United States, it is celebrated by the LGBTQ+ community worldwide. Several countries celebrate Pride in different months, depending on their history. However, most countries, including India, celebrate Pride in June.

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