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Pride Month History: Celebrate

Celebrate Pride Month

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What is the History of Pride Month?

The Stonewall Riots weren’t the first time that LGBTQ+ people stood up against police harassment — before Stonewall, there was a riot in Los Angeles at Cooper Do-Nuts, and in San Francisco at Compton’s Cafeteria. But Stonewall is definitely the best-known, and led to the creation of what we know as Pride today.

It started with a police raid on a hot summer night in Greenwich Village. Cops stormed the Stonewall Inn, arresting patrons and forcing them into waiting police vehicles. But a nearby crowd grew restless and angry, and eventually someone — there’s debate over who — started whipping onlookers into fighting back. They pelted the police, forcing homophobic cops to retreat, and aggressive street confrontations continued over the next few nights.

Following the Stonewall Riots, organizers wanted to build on that spirit of resistance. The following year, they organized a march to Central Park, and adopted the theme of “Gay Pride” as a counterpoint to the prevailing attitude of shame. That march down Christopher Street soon expanded to other cities, with many more joining in year over year through the 1970s until Pride became the massive celebration that we know today. Continue reading from them

LGBTQ Activism

The 20th century saw a wave of organized activism to secure civil rights and freedoms for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people. LGBTQ individuals had long been subject to public hostility and legal prosecution, and were widely denied protection against discrimination in employment, housing, military service, and private and public services. In the years after World War II, activists across the nation formed organizations, including the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis, to campaign for civil rights for gay men and lesbians. Early movement leaders included Frank Kameny, who spent decades fighting against the federal government’s anti-LGBTQ employment policies, and Lilli Vincenz, who published newsletters and columns, picketed the White House, and made films that documented key moments in the movement.

In June 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The bar’s patrons, including transgender and gender non-conforming people, lesbians, and gay men, fought back, sparking several days of protests. A year later, to mark the anniversary of the uprising, thousands of people took to the streets for the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade, which is widely regarded as the first Pride celebration. Continue reading from Library of Congress

From our Collection

Link to We Are Everywhere by Matthew Riemer in the Catalog
Link to The Stonewall Riots by Matthew Riemer in the Catalog
Link to Love and Resistance: Out of the Closet into the Stonewall Era edited by Jason Baumann in the Catalog
Link to Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum in the Catalog
Link to The Stonewall Reader edited by Jason Baumann in the Catalog
Link to Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution by David Carter in the Catalog