June: The Month of Pride
June is LGBT Pride Month. When celebrating pride, a knowledge of the history and struggle for LGBT rights is very important. Pride month is more than just rainbow tutus and glitter; recognizing the massive injustices that have been committed against the LGBT community and their fight for equal rights is key to celebrating their victories.
The month of June was chosen for LGBT Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall riots, which occurred in New York at the end of June 1969. Early on the morning of June 28, 1969, police raided Stonewall Inn, a gay bar located in Greenwich Village, New York. That night, there were over 200 people in the bar. The gay community had grown weary of police harassment and their targeting of gay clubs, so that night they finally fought back.
In David Carter’s book titled Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution, club attendee Michael Fader recalls that fateful night and the feelings it evoked: “We all had a collective feeling like we’d had enough of this kind of shit… Everyone in the crowd felt that we were never going to go back. It was like the last straw. It was time to reclaim something that had always been taken from us.”
This riot and further protests during the following nights were the watershed moment in the modern LGBT rights movement and the impetus for organizing LGBT pride marches on a much larger public scale. The Stonewall Riots are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States. It is also regarded by many as history’s first major protest on behalf of equal rights for the LGBT community.
The LGBT community has come a long way since the fateful night in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn. Two years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pride Month is not only about celebrating past accomplishments, it is about looking forward and recognizing how much farther we must go and how much harder we must fight.
In his speech following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision, President Obama stated, “History doesn’t just travel forward; it can go backwards if we don’t work hard. So we can’t be complacent. Securing the gains this country has made requires perseverance and vigilance.” This perseverance and vigilance is a major part of the spirit of Pride Month. Now more than ever, it is so important that we come together as a community to empower each other, respect one another, and fight for each other’s freedoms.