Thu, Jun 16, 2022
The Pride Parade has historically always been the main event and the focus of Pride festivities around the world. There’s a very good reason for that: before Pride was a parade, it was a protest; and before even that, it was a riot.
In much of the world, in the 1960s, it was not only badly seen to be part of the LGBTQIA2P+ group, but it was outright illegal, punishable by anything from a fine, to imprisonment and even death. In the USA, it was not only illegal to be in a sexual relationship with someone of the same sex, but it was also illegal to be wearing a certain number of items of clothing which didn’t match your gender assigned at birth. There was even a law against serving alcoholic beverages to “homosexuals,” which gave the police an excuse to raid bars serving members of the LGBTQIA2P+ community, and arrest as many people as possible.
On June 28th 1969, such a raid occurred at the Stonewall Inn, a bar in Greenwich Village, a neighbourhood in New York City which was home to a large concentration and thriving community of LGBTQIA2P+ people. It had an active nightlife and many bars, including Stonewall. As happened nearly every evening, on the night of June 28th, the police came to raid the Stonewall Inn, but this time, its patrons had had enough, and decided to resist.
There is no one accepted narrative as to exactly what happened next. There are several contradictory accounts, but a few facts are agreed upon. There was a riot which lasted days in the streets of New York, and this was the event which galvanized the world, and sparked protests and marches to recognize the human rights of LGBTQIA2P+ people. There had been a few protests before, inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, but after the Stonewall riots, the movement spread like wildfire through North America and the rest of the world.
One of the countries in which movement quickly happened was Canada, who saw its first LGBTQIA2P+ protest on August 27th, 1971, when more than 200 members of the community marched on Parliament with a list of ten demands. This is why some Canadian cities, such as Ottawa and Montreal, celebrate Pride in late August, to honour the people who are responsible for starting the movement that started Canada down the road of equal rights for LGBTQIA2P+ people.
However, we still recognize, along with the rest of the world, the month of June as International Pride Month, during which we commemorate the riots that shook the world and sparked what would soon be called the Gay Liberation Movement. As one of its founding heroes Marsha P. Johnson said:
"History isn't something you look back at and say it was inevitable, it happens because people make decisions that are sometimes very impulsive and of the moment, but those moments are cumulative realities."
Happy Pride month!