Pride Month is the celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) identity and dignity held usually in June every year. In addition to that, it also provides an opportunity to organise non-violent protests to bring awareness to the current issues faced by the community.
In the United States, the last Sunday of June is marked as “Gay Pride Day”, but the day has become quite flexible as the movement spread across the world. Today, it is celebrated as a month-long series of events in the form of pride parades, parties, picnics, festivals, workshops, etc. People from all around the globe unite to celebrate their diversity.
So, how did Pride Month come to be? Why is it being celebrated in June and not any other months of the year? June was chosen to pay tribute to the Stonewall Riots, which happened at the end of June 1969 in the United States of America. On June 28, 1969, the New York City police raided Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village and arrested 13 people. The Inn was a haven for gay men, drag queens and effeminate men to dance and have a good time. The long pent-up frustration of the LQBTQ community and its supporters decided to manifest itself as a full-fledged, spontaneous uprising. The NYC police aggressively manhandled several citizens, leading the riot to persist for six more days.
The protestors demanded the establishment of places for the LGBTQ community where they could proudly flaunt their sexual orientation without fear of police harassment and persecution to which they were frequently subjected. The uprising marked a significant moment in history for the Gay Liberation Movement.
On the same day in 1970, Brenda Howard, a bisexual activist, organised the first LGBTQ Pride march to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. The parade eventually morphed into the modern-day New York City Pride March. It also became the catalyst for the formation of similar parades around the world. It paved the way for a path of acceptance in the LGBTQ community.
The first rainbow flag was designed by artist Gilbert Baker in 1978. It was hand-dyed and had eight symbolic colours. Hot pink is to sexuality; red is to life; orange is to healing; yellow is to sunlight; green is to nature; turquoise is to serenity and harmony; blue is to magic and art; violet is to spirit. Later, hot pink and turquoise were dropped due to the need for design symmetry.
The celebration means something to every person. For those in the community, Pride Month is not simply about connecting with others in the same league as them. It is about celebrating coming out to their family and friends, being visible to those who deny their existence, and embracing their true self. For others, it is about supporting their family and helping everyone feel accepted.
This year, pride month is to be celebrated virtually due to the sad reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the constraints, the pandemic has helped a lot of people to self-introspect. Many people have come out of the closet and found a haven in the online community.