Pride Month a Time of Celebration and Reflection
“We are powerful because we have survived”
- Audre Lorde
The month of June was specifically chosen for LGBTQ+ Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising in New York, which occurred at the end of June in 1969. The Stonewall uprising is historically known as the start of the Gay Liberation Movement. Initially being a one-day event, Pride grew over time and across the nation to what is now a month-long celebration of events! Usually, Pride is marked by joyful celebrations, picnics, parties, music programs, and, of course, parades! But we did not get to this point easily or without enormous effort and sacrifice on the part of many LGBTQ+ Americans who helped to shape the course of LGBTQ+ history and make Pride month possible. During Pride month, we reflect on the past and the struggles, but celebrate and remember along the way those who made sacrifices making Pride month what it is today. It is important to take a moment to appreciate the past and the efforts made by so many.
Gilbert Baker, was a gay rights activist, educator, artist, in addition to being the designer of the LGBTQ+ rainbow flag! In his memoir, RAINBOW WARRIOR, which is a wonderful book to read during Pride month, he eloquently describes its origins: “We were all in a swirl of color and light. It was like a rainbow. A rainbow. That’s the moment when I knew exactly what kind of flag I would make. A Rainbow Flag was a conscious choice, natural and necessary. The rainbow came from earliest recorded history as a symbol of hope. In the Book of Genesis, it appeared as proof of a covenant between God and all living creatures. It was also found in Chinese, Egyptian and Native American history. A Rainbow Flag would be our modern alternative to the pink triangle. Now the rioters who claimed their freedom at the Stonewall Bar in 1969 would have their own symbol of liberation” This flag, since its debut, has been an internationally known symbol of LGBTQ+ pride!
Audre Lorde, born in 1934, was a poet, a mother, a warrior, an innovator, and a proud lesbian. She dedicated her life to her creative and extraordinary literary talents and was also a strong voice and advocate for others by confronting and addressing the vast injustices of the time, including homophobia. She profoundly understood the intersectionality of one’s personal identity and, through her work and actions, influenced thoughts and broke through societal barriers. She is a prominent social justice trailblazer who laid a firm foundation and philosophy for activists and others to follow.
Barbara Gittings was another gay pioneer who is often known as the mother of the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. During her time, gay activism was truly in its infancy, with Barbara taking the lead and pushing things forward: “I've had the satisfaction of working with other gay people all across the country to get the bigots off our back, to oil the closet hinges, to change prejudiced hearts and minds, and to show that gay love is good for us and for the rest of the world too.” She started the New York chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB). Founded in San Francisco, the DOB was the first lesbian civil rights organization in the United States.
These are just a few of the trailblazers who have made an impact on social justice and the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. Although this Pride month will be different for many due to COVID-19, we will still celebrate and reflect on the past and present. Pride month is more than just parades, picnics, and events, it is a time of reflection on the progress we have made made and of our hopes for the future.