The History of Pride June 9, 2023 – Posted in: Global News

June is Pride month, so AtWork! and our team thought we would share some information about why it’s celebrated. The LGBTQIA+ community has had a very bumpy ride when it comes to their rights.

In ancient times the LGBTQIA+ community was revered for…

being different. There were many gods in many pantheons that took same-sex lovers and partners, no one really said anything against it. The Greek city-state Thebes had a special military unit called the Sacred Band which was made up of 150 gay couples. Their thought on this was that everyone would work harder in war to protect their partner. It wasn’t really until the “end of Paganism” that same-sex relations were looked down upon.

After World War II, the US wanted to restore the “Pre-War Social Order” and hold off the forces of change. U.S. Government Agencies made a list of who they saw as security risks, and the LGBTQIA+ Community made the list. Between 1947 and 1950, 1,700 federal job applications were denied. 4,380 people were discharged from the military and 420 were fired from government jobs because they were suspected of being homosexual. In 1952, Homosexuality was posted as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, the organization that sets the standard for mental health diagnosis and care.

In 1955, The Daughters of Bilitis were the first Lesbian activist group. Also considered to be an alternative to Lesbian bars which at the time were considered to be Illegal and be subject to police raids and harassment. All these events lead up to one of the biggest Gay Rights Demonstrations, the Stonewall Uprising or Stonewall Rebellion. In an article a few years back, members of the Community were interviewed about Stonewall. They said that they never used the term riots, they saw it more as an uprising and the police used the term riot to justify their aggressive behavior.

The Raids of LGBTQIA bars in New York were routine due to police harassment since LGBTQIA was illegal but on the night of June 28th, 1969, things got out of control. That first night led to a multiple-night uprising, Patrons of the Stonewall Inn, other local gay and lesbian bars patrons, and neighborhood residents came to help fight back the police. Residents were protesting to be able to live their lives in their neighborhoods without the fear of being arrested since the illegality of homosexuality was passed down in colonial times.  After all of this happened one year later on June 28th, 1970, the first Pride marches took place in New York.

The 1970s saw a lot of LGBTQIA+ progress within the United States. 1973 saw Lambda Legal as the first legal organization to fight for LGBT rights, and in March of that year, PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) had its first meeting. Then, in 1974, Kathy Kozachenko became the first openly LGBTQ American elected to public office, holding a seat on the Ann Arbor Michigan City Council. In 1975 the first Federal gay rights bill was seen but never brought to consideration. On January 9, 1978, Harvey Milk was appointed as San Fran’s City Supervisor but was sadly assassinated by Dan White in November. Due to Harvey’s influence, the first LGBTQUIA+ Pride Flag was created.

The ’80s and ’90s were a mix of progress and erosion of LGBTQIA+ rights. 1983 saw the first HIV/AIDS discrimination lawsuit. In 1988, the first National Coming Out Day was observed in an effort to support anyone “coming out of the closet” or living openly as an LGBTQIA individual. In 1993, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was signed into effect as the official United States policy on military service of non-heterosexual people, and 1996 saw the Defense of Marriage Act was signed into effect preventing any same-sex marriages from receiving any federal marriage benefits.

At the turn of the Century, everything started to change. In 2003, the US Supreme Court struck down the Homosexual Law, which decriminalizes same-sex conduct. In 2004 the first LEGAL same-sex marriage took place in Massachusetts. 2011 saw the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” overturned, and 2012 followed with Obama becoming the first sitting president to publicly support the freedom for LGBTQ+ couples to marry. A huge win for American Civil Rights was the passing of Marriage Equality in 2015, protecting the rights of same-sex marriages on a federal level. In June 2020, the US Supreme Court ruled that Federal Law Protects LGBTQ+ workers from Discrimination. January of 2021 President Biden repeals Trump-era ban on transgender Americans joining the military.

Within the last two years, there have been an unprecedented amount of anti-LGBTQ+ bills being considered and passed. It’s been 54 years since Stonewall, and we are constantly fighting for our rights. The LGBTQIA+ Pride Parade and celebration started off as a march against the system that discriminated against and criminalized our community. Through the years we have had plenty of wins which is why we still “march”. We celebrate those wins, but we still march in a Parade to remind us and the world of the discrimination and violence the LGBTQIA+ community still faces. The look of the march may have drastically changed over the years, but the heart behind it hasn’t. Pride in the LGBTQ+ Community is like what the 4th of July is to America. We light fireworks and wave our flags to remind us of where we came from and why we are able to wave our flag. Yet we also know that we deploy soldiers to actively make sure that we can celebrate in the years to come.

Written by Michael Poepping, Employment Consultant

Drafted by Mackenzie Wyatt, Office Manager

Edited by Alexandrea MacIndoe, Director of Advocacy & Marketing


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