By: Jamie Jones, ASDA District 6 Blog Editor
In 2018, Gay Pride Month is often associated with bright colors, good times, and most importantly, rainbow flags. While the month of June has evolved into a time of joyous celebration for the world’s LGBT communities, it is important to honor the history of the modern LGBT rights movement and reflect on what this month is all about.
Most of us can agree that in today’s society, it is simply outrageous to imagine a time when being LGBT was considered a crime-or better yet- a mental illness. Nonetheless, gay history is not complete without the mentioning of these trying times for the country’s LGBT population. It wasn’t until June 1969 that the LGBT rights movement undoubtedly took a turn with the Stonewall riots, which many historians refer to as the “watershed moment” and transformative event for LGBT civil rights. The riots and subsequent blossoming of several gay rights campaigns occurred after police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village. After years of being persecuted and discriminated against, New York’s gay community was fed up- and neighborhood riots broke out over the following three days. This served as a catalyst for the establishment of countless gay rights advocacy groups that began protesting, meeting with political leaders, and building off the momentum of the Stonewall uprising. On June 28, 1970, the first pride march took place in New York City to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. The tradition stuck with yearly celebrations and demonstrations, and in June 2016, then President Barack Obama established the Stonewall National Monument, a 7.7-acre testament to the location where the Stonewall Riots occurred several years earlier. It is the first U.S. National Monument dedicated to LGBT rights and history and serves as a reminder of the influential turning point that occurred there.
Thanks to the courage and tireless work of many gay rights activists, pride marches and parades are held in at least 158 cities throughout the world, and what was once a political demonstration has now transformed into an entire movement, with Gay Pride Month celebrated on every continent. Although the LGBT community has undeniably come a long way since the Stonewall riots of 1969, incidences such as the 2016 shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, show that oppression still exists. Tragedies like this one remind us how important it is to continuously fight for equality for all Americans. Pride lasts just one month, but human rights are something that should be celebrated 365 days a year.
The personal significance of Pride can be summarized in this inspiring quote by an anonymous OSU dental student: “LGBT Pride Month was chosen as the month of June to commemorate the Stonewall riots which occurred in June 1969. Although society has dramatically changed over the past few decades for LGBT rights, people from all over the world are still facing violence and inequality simply because of how they look or who they love. Rather than to dwell in shame and the social stigma that predominates the outlook toward the LGBT community, we use this month to come together in pride and celebrate our sexual diversity and gender variance. Being LGBT doesn’t define us. It is just one more part of who we are. There are more than 10 million Americans who are LGBT – they are senators, athletes, celebrities, and even your classmates. Be an ally to our community. We are people just like you.”