It seems impossible that it was half a century ago when the gay rights movement began as an uprising that kick-started a revolution.
For those of you who aren’t immediately familiar with my topic, the Stonewall Riots occurred in the summer of 1969, when the Stonewall Inn, a well-known gay bar in Greenwich Village, was raided by police in the early morning of June 28th. The patrons bravely fought back, sparking a brawl that lasted for the next several nights. Within weeks, people began to come together, organizing as a cohesive group, and thus started the “Gay Liberation Movement”: which we of course know today as the LGBTQ+ Rights Movement. The very first Pride March took place the following year on June 28th, 1970 in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago, and they’ve continued ever since.
It seems befitting for New York to cement their history of being gay-friendly and open to a marginalized group. The City is a melting pot that welcomed people from so many diverse backgrounds, and in the 1950’s and 60’s, the world was still a hostile place for LGBT Americans. While they weren’t put to death as often as in the past; once outed, anyone who was LGBT could still be institutionalized, forced to abandon a career in the limelight, or be cut off from their families or society altogether.
After five decades of relentless activism, this June New York City is celebrating through dozens of amazing Pride-themed events. Among many (many) others, one of the biggest events is the World Pride Opening Ceremony on Wednesday, June 26th, which is touted as a month-long celebration. Some events are more focused on our agenda, like the politically-oriented Human Rights Conference, which is on the 24th & 25th, to discuss worldwide LGBT rights. Some are more fun, like the CosPlay and Pride party on the 22nd. There are also family-friendly options as well, like the Family Movie Night on the 21st. One of the biggest events will, of course, be the Pride March on June 30th. And on June 28th, they’re holding the Stonewall 50 Commemoration Rally for free!
While our lives today are far from perfect, things have improved tremendously because we, as a people, have organized and fought back time and time again. We’ve encountered decades of vitriolic heterosexism, incredible odds, and staggering everyday discrimination that is by no means over. Yet, we have more rights than ever before, we have more representation than ever before, and we’re less marginalized than we’ve ever been before. Heck, we even have a top-tier gay candidate for President! (Sidebar: Go Mayor Pete!) So while we still have so far to go, it’s time to come together and commemorate how far we’ve come…and have some fun along the way!