June represents Pride month for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] community. It’s celebrated around the world to allow people to come together in love and friendship to demonstrate how far gay rights have come. But despite work for equality, more needs to happen in some countries that still don’t accept the LGBT community.

The aim of Pride month is to teach people about tolerance, education in Pride history and how damaging homophobia, biphobia and transphobia was (and still is). Homophobia is the hatred towards lesbians and gays; biphobia towards people who are bisexual (people who are emotionally, physically or sexually attracted towards men and women), and transphobia towards anyone who is part of the trans community.

Pride month’s history comes from the Stonewall riots, protests that changed gay rights for America, and so the whole month of June is dedicated to the LGBT community. The work of Pride month isn’t limited to one month, it’s a continuing process.

Pride month will continue until equality has been achieved and the LGBT community can feel accepted around the world, without the fear of being imprisoned or having to face the death penalty as a result of who they are or who they love. Everyone should be entitled to the right to be able to love who they want, no matter if it is a member of the same or opposite sex. They should also be entitled to be who they want to be, not what society expects them to be. Hiding your gender identity or sexual orientation isn’t healthy and it only makes things worse for the individual who is hiding ‘in the closet’.  People should be proud of who they are.

What were the Stonewall Riots?

In the early hours of 28th June 1969, the New York City police began to raid the Stonewall Inn, Manhattan, NY. In the 1950s and 1960s, the gay community faced an anti-gay legal system in America and very few establishments welcomed gay Americans. Establishments that gay Americans were welcomed into were run by organised crime groups due to the illegal nature of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) bars at the time. The Stonewall Inn was owned by the Mafia. Raids on gay bars were routine in the 1960s, occurring on average at one every month for each bar.

The standard procedure meant that anyone who was a woman, or appeared to be one, would have to go to the bathroom for their sex to be checked by female officers. If they were found to be a man, they would be arrested. The lights in the bar would also be turned on, and anyone without identification or who were dressed in drag costume was arrested.

However, on 28th June, the raid didn’t go according to plan. While raiding the Stonewall Inn, the police quickly lost control of the situation; tensions between them and gay residents of Greenwich Village erupted into further protests every night until 3rd July 1969. The patrons were sick of the raids and refused to do as the police told them to. A crowd of patrons, who had been let free since they had cleared their checks by the police, had begun to form outside. The police, outnumbered by five to six hundred people, attempted to restrain some of the crowd. However, their wagon and two police cars were overturned, and tyres punctured.

Within weeks, residents of Greenwich Village organised themselves into activist groups, concentrating on establishing places for gay men and lesbians to be open about their sexuality without the fear that they will be arrested. A year after the Stonewall riots, the first Pride marches took place in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Alongside this, the anniversary of the riots was commemorated in Chicago and similar marches were also organised in other cities. The Stonewall National Monument, located in Greenwich Village, was established in 2016.

The charity, Stonewall, was founded on 24th May 1989, and advocate for LGBT rights across the UK.

Today, annual Pride events occur throughout the year across the world, with events happening in the UK mainly between May and August. A list of the Prides can be found here – https://pinkuk.com/events/gay-pride-2021 and include dates of past and future Pride events, including dates confirmed for 2022. However, some of the 2021 events have had to be postponed, a decision taken by the event organisers as a result of the pandemic.