Celebrating 50 years of Pride

This year we’re celebrating a pride month like no other. It has been an indescribably difficult year, but more than ever the rainbow flag is motivating LGBTQ+ people and queer people of colour to celebrate and speak up.

Celebrating our LGBTQ+ history

Pride month is a celebration born from struggle. On June 28, 1970, the United States was host to the first Gay Pride march, to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. In June of 1969 the police violently raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York. The more than 200 people present in the bar were frisked, questioned, harassed and brought to the police station, and anyone in drag was arrested. The fear and humiliation those individuals were made to feel sparked a much needed fire in the gay and lesbian community to stand up, take pride in their identity and come forward in public to express themselves without fear or judgement. The day after the raid, protests broke out and activist groups were formed. The pride marches have taken place in June, every year, since 1970 and on June 6, 2019, 50 years after the raids and riots, the New York City Police Commissioner issued a formal apology on behalf of the New York Police Department for the actions of its officers at Stonewall in 1969.

This year marks 50 years of pride parades and marches. Not only is this year important because it marks a major milestone in the LGBTQ+ community, in light of recent events involving the misconduct of police officers, it is more important than ever before to stand up for what is right and make sure that everyone, black, trans, queer, lesbian or gay feels they have a voice and they are heard and treated with respect.

What pride looks like in 2020

In March we saw the whole world scramble to adjust to the global pandemic which left so much of the population at home, out of work and worried about their safety. The rainbow became a symbol of hope to people everywhere, reminding us that after a struggle there will always be a brighter tomorrow. That is exactly what the pride flag means to us. It’s our celebration of how much we’ve overcome.

In May the world witnessed the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer and we collectively said, enough is enough. Stonewall started pride, and Floyd’s death kicked off some of largest protests the world has ever seen in support of #blacklivesmatter. Worldwide people have been educating themselves on the history and struggles of black people, especially black Americans, and through this process it’s become clear that no matter how you identify or what you look like, we all need to understand and support those who are subjected to the most discrimination. And with that understanding, we need to put in the time and work necessary to reconstruct our social systems to eliminate the foundation of prejudice and discrimination. It won’t be easy, but nothing worth it is.

So this month, celebrate your LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters, celebrate and support your black and trans brothers and sisters, and remember that the rainbow symbolizes diversity but also the light after a storm. 2020 has been quite the storm, and that only means our rainbow will shine brighter in the years to come.

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