Pride month is important and here is why. Im not a lesbian or anything but I am very open minded and care about people that are different.
June is Pride Month when the LGBTQ+ community celebrates and promotes their civil rights movements. Pride Month commemorates the Stonewall Riots in June 1969 after police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in New York City. The raid sparked days of protests and violent clashes as members of the LGBTQ+ community fought back against years of persecution. The Stonewall Riots became a catalyst for the gay rights movement both in the US and worldwide.
Pride Month is about unapologetically embracing and celebrating LGBTQ+ identity. It’s about recognizing the impact LGBTQ+ individuals have made throughout history and the challenges the community continues to face today. Although public acceptance of sexual and gender minorities has grown enormously over the past 50 years, LGBTQ+ people still face discrimination, bullying, hate crimes, and more. Pride Month is as much about protesting continued injustices as partying and parades.
While Pride celebrations often get dismissed as frivolous celebrations filled with sparkles and rainbows, LGBTQ+ Pride Month has profound significance. Though acceptance has grown leaps and bounds, we still must achieve full equality. Outright hostility and violence against queer people remains a serious issue. Pride Month allows people to come together peacefully and demand the fundamental human rights and dignity they deserve.
Historical Oppression of LGBTQ+ People
To understand the full significance of Pride, it is essential to understand what LGBTQ+ people have endured throughout history. Society has long oppressed sexual and gender minorities, viewing queerness as sinful, unnatural, and sick. Many religions condemned homosexuality and non-binary genders, fueling intolerance. For centuries, in much of the world, gay sex was illegal and punishable by imprisonment, castration, or even death. Trans people faced similar discrimination and violence for daring to live authentically.
From the earliest Judeo-Christian days, religious scriptures denounced homosexuality as sinful. By the Middle Ages, many European countries implemented sodomy laws that criminalized homosexual behavior. Accused sodomites faced castration, mutilation, exile, or burning at the stake. England’s 1533 Buggery Act made anal intercourse punishable by death. Buggery laws executed hundreds, maybe thousands of people over the centuries.
When European powers began colonizing other continents, they brought their anti-gay legislation. Nations like the United States, Canada, and Australia inherited sodomy laws. In America, puritanical Colonial codes prescribed the death penalty for male homosexuality, lesbianism, and cross-dressing. After independence, states reformed their statutes, changing the maximum punishment to life in prison. However, anti-gay policing and discrimination remained rampant.
Classification as Mental Illness
The 1800s saw the rise of modern medical science. As researchers studied human sexuality, many deemed homosexuality and transgender identity pathological. Doctors tried various horrific experimental treatments, including castration, hysterectomy, lobotomy, electroshock, and aversion therapies. Psychoanalysts believed homosexuality stemmed from failed bonding with same-sex parents and mental instability.
In the 1952 first edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-I), the American Psychiatric Association classified homosexuality as a “sociopathic personality disturbance.” Trans people were diagnosed with gender dysphoria (seen as a problem, not an identity). Medicalizing queer identities promoted harmful ideas that LGBTQ+ people suffered from an illness that needed curing. Until 1974, the American Psychological Association listed homosexuality as a mental disorder in the DSM. Discredited conversion therapies promising to make gay people straight stemmed directly from this.
The Lavender Scare
In the 1940s and 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy promoted public paranoia about communist infiltration of the US government. His investigations targeted thousands as suspected Soviet spies, the majority of whom were innocent. The Lavender Scare refers to how the anti-communist purges also involved hunting for ‘sexual perverts,’ i.e., queer government employees.
In 1950, the State Department declared that homosexuality posed severe security risks and made employees susceptible to blackmail. Hundreds lost their jobs. In 1953, President Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10450 mandating firing of all federal civil servants found guilty of ‘sexual perversion,’ whether or not such activity directly compromised their work. Many more were pressured into resigning. The government also banned homosexual foreigners from entering the country.
The Lavender Scare ruined thousands of lives and fueled homophobia for decades. It sent the message that the existence of LGBTQ+ Americans posed an inherent threat to national security and societal stability.
Police Raids and Activist Groups
American gays and lesbians in the 1950s lived in fear of police surveillance and raids on bars and gatherings. Patrons caught in attacks often had their names and details published in newspapers, leading to public shame, divorce, job loss, and suicide. The 1950s saw the formation of several early homophile organizations, like the Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis. These groups offered vital support, resources, and community at a time when gay and lesbian identities remained largely hidden.
Persecution of sexual and gender minorities continued through the mid-20th century. While activists like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Harvey Milk gradually built momentum for LGBTQ rights, the community still endured grievous hardships from society and institutions.
The Stonewall Riots and Their Legacy
The 1969 Stonewall Riots represented a significant turning point in the LGBTQ+ rights movement. For the first time, the queer community bravely fought back against government persecution, catalyzing organizing for equality.
- The Raid on the Stonewall Inn
In the early hours of June 28, 1969, New York City police conducted a raid on the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay establishment in Greenwich Village. Though mafia-owned, the Stonewall provided a sanctuary for LGBTQ+ people. However, police frequently raided gay bars and arrested patrons on morality charges.
As officers cleared the bar, arresting staff and some customers while letting others go, tensions escalated. Fed up with endless police harassment, Stonewall patrons decided enough was enough. Anger boiled over into violent resistance against the police.
- The Riots
What began as a routine raid ignited six days of demonstrations, clashes, and riots as LGBTQ+ people refused to be cowed and attacked. Protestors screamed “Gay Power!” throwing bricks, bottles, garbage, and more at law enforcement. Police were stunned by the explosive uprising. For the first time, the gay community forcefully fought back on a mass scale. Word spread quickly, and more people, even straight allies, joined the riots.
Though the police brutally beat protestors and arrested many, the queer community persevered. The protests had become an affirming, joyous gathering by the third night. People danced in the streets, openly proud to celebrate their identity. When the riots died down, the momentum for change lived on.
- Impact on the Gay Liberation Movement
The Stonewall Riots represented a clear shift in the LGBTQ+ mindset from passive acceptance towards active liberation. Building on the work of earlier pioneers, a new wave of gay and transgender activists emerged demanding equal rights. The energy of Stonewall inspired the creation of numerous activist groups, queer publications, cultural institutions, and the first Pride parades.
In the aftermath, solidarity in the community blossomed. On the riots’ anniversary, Brenda Howard coordinated a march and gay pride week of coordinated events. These grew into the Pride traditions we still celebrate today. The original march route inspired the layout of major Pride events like New York City’s parade.
By defiantly defending themselves at Stonewall, the LGBTQ+ community finally forced society to pay attention to their struggles. They proved they would no longer quietly endure mistreatment. Stonewall marked a turn toward increased visibility, ultimately changing American culture’s attitudes toward queerness.
Thanks to the strides made by brave activists, public opinion and legal rights for sexual and gender minorities have progressed enormously. Same-sex marriage is legal, conversion therapy is banned in many places, and more LGBTQ+ people than ever are comfortable living openly. However, ongoing challenges make clear the continuing need for Pride Month.
- Despite monumental civil rights gains, gaps in legal protections remain problematic in America. Only 22 states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, and more. This means LGBTQ+ people in over half the country can legally be fired, evicted, or denied services simply for being queer. Twenty-nine states have no LGBTQ workplace discrimination laws. The Equality Act, which would prohibit anti-LGBTQ discrimination nationwide, faces conservative opposition. Other issues, like religious exemption laws that enable anti-LGBTQ discrimination, also remain legal.
- Healthcare discrimination affects access to fertility services, trans-related care, HIV treatment, and more, jeopardizing queer lives and denying necessary transition-related treatment to trans youth borders on human rights violations.
- The gay and trans “panic defenses” remain legal in many states, allowing murderers of LGBTQ+ victims to avoid harsh sentences by blaming temporary insanity on the victim coming on to them.
- Despite federal legalization of same-sex marriage, many states still have outdated statutes interpreted as banning gay marriage. Some clerks still turn away licenses for queer couples. Groups also aggressively work to limit marriage equality.
- Adoption discrimination makes it harder for same-sex couples to start families. Some states allow religiously-affiliated adoption agencies to reject LGBTQ parents over “moral objections.”
Though public attitudes have greatly improved, acceptance is not universal. Queer individuals still experience:
- Bullying, harassment, and assault in schools
- Rejection from unaccepting families
- Homelessness, especially among LGBTQ youth, rejected their identity
- Workplace discrimination, including hostile company cultures, tokenization, limits on advancement, etc.
- Hate crimes, including violent assaults, vandalism, arson, and murder
- Verbal abuse and microaggressions
- Erasure of queer experiences and history
- Negative stereotyping and sexualization in media
- Public displays of homophobia and transphobia
This stigma contributes to issues like dramatically higher rates of mental illness, suicide, and substance abuse among LGBTQ+ populations than straight, cisgender people.
Due in part to social stigma, discrimination, and lack of cultural competence in the healthcare system, LGBTQ+ individuals face significant health disparities:
- Increased rates of HIV/AIDS, cancer, obesity, substance abuse, and more
- Reduced preventive care and mammography screening
- Heightened risk factors like smoking, alcohol abuse, and uncompensated care
- Alarming mental health statistics with higher anxiety, depression, suicide risk, PTSD, eating disorders, and externalized disorders
- Shorter life expectancies
- Barriers to accessing trans-inclusive, gender-affirming treatment
For people of color and teens within the LGBTQ+ community, these issues are further compounded. Tackling these health inequities is an enormous, urgent concern.
The Continued Importance of Pride Month
While undeniable progress towards equality has occurred, LGBTQ+ people continue to face disproportionate discrimination, health issues, stigma, and more. Pride Month serves as a period of awareness-raising, celebration of identity, protest, and mourning for this marginalized community. The spirit of Stonewall lives on as activists persist in demanding the human rights all people deserve, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Activism for Legal and Social Change
Pride events often include marches, protests, community organizing, and activist workshops to drive further legal and cultural change. With midterm elections approaching, groups use Pride to rally support and votes to protect or expand LGBTQ+ civil rights against reactionary opposition. Grassroots advocacy during Pride pushes institutions from healthcare systems to corporations towards more inclusive, equitable policies.
- Building Community
Pride offers LGBTQ+ individuals a chance to come together joyfully as one community. The welcoming space Pride fosters is invaluable for people unable to live openly the rest of the year or residing in isolated areas. Pride unites diverse genders and sexual minorities to support each other in a world that often feels hostile or unwelcoming. Pride provides a sense of belonging and validation through building solidarity and care networks.
- Promoting Visibility
Pride is about unabashedly embracing and expressing LGBTQ+ identity, increasing public representation. With each openly queer and gender non-conforming person visible, society moves further towards normalization of sexual and gender diversity. This increased visibility positively impacts both queer youth and adults. For older generations who grew up when being openly gay necessitated hiding, Pride can represent profound catharsis.
- Honoring History
Pride commemorates the sacrifices of Stonewall and early gay rights pioneers. Marches and events often memorialize victims of HIV/AIDS and anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes and violence. Pride reminds us of how far queer advocacy has come while acknowledging the unfinished journey towards true equality. Learning this history fosters intergenerational connections and inspires younger activists. Pride Month educates straight, cisgender people about this past.
- Celebrating Identity
During Pride, the LGBTQ+ community celebrates the diversity and beauty within itself. For individuals often made to feel shame over their identity, openly celebrating queerness can be liberating. Pride allows people to live authentically and feel secure in a crowd of their peers. Seeing so many embrace their sexuality and gender fuels self-acceptance. The joy and jubilation of Pride parades let participants delight in their shared identity.
Pride Month holds profound significance as more than just colorful parades and parties. At its core, Pride Month represents protest, solidarity, and remembrance. Pride commemorates LGBTQ+ history while advocating for further progress towards equality. By building community and promoting visibility, Pride helps support a marginalized group still facing severe challenges and even threats to life. Until society achieves total inclusivity, Pride Month will remain vital. Through the enduring legacy of Stonewall, the LGBTQ+ community and allies come together during Pride, loudly demanding their right to live and love freely as themselves.