By Aatif Iqbal
In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, in New York City’s Greenwich village, police raided Stonewall Inn which was a popular place of gathering for young members of the LGBTQI+ community. Police rounded up the illegal liquor sellers, and arrested many patrons. This action of the police enraged the masses as it was seen as harassment to LGBTQI+ community members. This subsequently took the form of rioting and despite the police’s attempts to suppress it, this incident at Stonewall Inn provided the spark that ignited the LGBTQI+ movement in the United States of America.
It is this incident that we now know as the ‘Stonewall Uprising’.
This incident led to Pride month being celebrated in June across the world. Although this was not the first event in the long history of the queer movement, it was significant.
Pride month is celebrated to commemorate the accomplishments of the queer community in fighting for civil and human rights and equality before the law. Just a year after this incident, in 1970, the first Pride Parades were organized in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. It was then that the phrase “Gay Pride” came into prominence.
Some major landmark historical events related to the LGBTQ movement
Henry Gerber in 1924 founded the Society for Human Rights in Chicago. The society helped organize the queer community in their fight toward legal recognition. This group was the first gay rights group in the United States and they also published a newsletter, “Friendship and Freedom” which was America’s first recognized gay rights publication.
In the year 1958, the Supreme Court of the United States rendered a landmark judgment in the favor of gay rights in One, Inc. v. Olesen, 355 U.S. 371 (1958). In this case, the U.S Post office earlier refused to deliver a magazine named ONE: The Homosexual Magazine. This was the first widely distributed pro-gay publication in America.
1966 was the year when The Mattachine Society staged a “Sip-In,” for gay rights activists in New York City bar. This was significant as at the time a majority of the bars refused to serve the queer community.
Worldwide demonstrations for the rights of queer people began in the year 1971. In the year 1973, American Psychiatric Association declared that homosexuality is not a mental illness. In the year 1992, World Health Organisation (WHO) also declassified same-sex attraction as a mental illness.
In the year 1978, the world witnessed the first glimpse of ‘Rainbow Flag’, which is popularly used in contemporary times in every Pride Parade.
Before 1978, the LGBTQI+ community was recognized with the Greek alphabet ‘Lambda’ and ‘Pink Triangle’.
Gay rights activist Gilbert Baker introduced the ‘Rainbow Flag’ to the world which he painstakingly designed and hand-sewed. Each colour in this flag represents a meaning that Baker defined; violet for spirit, blue for harmony, green for nature, yellow for sunlight, hot pink for sex, turquoise for magic, red for life and orange for healing. Later on, turquoise and pink colours were dropped due to mass production issues and left the ‘Rainbow Flag’ with six colours.
Black Pride came into prominence in the year 1991 when 800 people gathered in Washington DC. Presently, around 30000 people participate in its Memorial Day. DC Black Pride worked as a catalyst for the black pride movement as a whole.
Another milestone was achieved in the sphere of LGBTQI+ rights in the year 2013. Supreme Court of the United States of America struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA, 1996) which did not recognize the marriage between gay or lesbian couples. Under this Act, consenting married couples were denied legal benefits like social security and health insurance.
In the year 2015, queer people achieved equality in marriage. They were given the right to marry in all 50 states across the United States of America. It was in the same year that the military also announced that they would now allow admission of transgender persons.
The Barack Obama administration in 2016 publicly showed support for transgender students. In 2018, around 150 LGBTQI+ members won the election and entered into a position of power in different capacities.
Recently, in the year 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States of America made a historic ruling wherein it ordered the protection of the LGBTQI+ community employees under federal anti-discrimination law in all 50 states.
The fight against discrimination continues and Pride Month shows Solidarity!
After years of advocacy, mass movement and resilience, the LGBTQI+ community has traveled a long way in achieving what they desire and deserve on human rights and equality.
Pride Month is an occasion to build solidarity for just and equal rights for the LGBTQI+ community. It spreads awareness to the masses and solidifies the voices of the marginal sections.
Aatif is a communications intern with TA. He is a post graduate in media governance from Jamia Millia Islamia University.
The Analysis (TA) is a research and communication group working on the issues of environment, health, gender, law and human rights. Feel free to share your submissions with us at email@example.com