The second the last bell is rung, the last assignment has been submitted, or the last zoom class has been held, we know that summer is coming in full swing. We sit all year waiting for June to roll around; as we wait for the May showers to end, we know that the next month brings with it a plethora of flurry – vacation, relaxation, excitement. However, simply because the schooling has taken a pause, shouldn’t entail our learning does. Aside from summer vacation, June holds a momentous and imperative place within the year as ‘Pride Month,’ dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, and commemorating the battles and struggles that were experienced in order to arrive to this present.
While the Stonewall Riots were not the first occasion in which the LGBTQ+ community protested for their rights, against the constant harassment faced by the police, it was this vital and infamous isolated instance that can be considered the starting point of Pride as we know it today. On June 28, 1969 Greenwich Village, New York City, a gay club known as Stonewall Inn faced a raid. While the years up until the 1970s were not considered the most open and welcoming for the community, gay bars and clubs were considered to be a safe space; the life, fashion, behaviors, and activities were typically pushed underground where such socialization wouldn’t face the pressures or descriminations of the surrounding social society. As such, the 1960s was common for police intimidation, but mafia owned Stonewall Inn, mostly managed to avoid the trouble, getting tips by corrupted cops before police raided nights. June 28th however, came as a surprise when the institutional and ‘secretive’ Stonewall Inn was raided, prompting a riot from both the bar patrons as well as the surrounding neighbors. As it bled into the week, protests at Stonewall Inn lasted for six more nights, creating headlines and garnering support. The Stonewall Riots, though not the beginning of the gay rights movement, was a catalyst force that has marked the history books, fostering the growth of movement, and further support for the LGBTQ+ community, the following year in 1970, seeing a march on Manhattan in celebration and defiance. This was the first gay pride parade, setting the precedent for years to come.
Fast forwarding to today, 2021, 41 years later, its safe to say the gay rights movement has come a long way, but simply not enough. While a plethora of anti-gay laws have been overturned, many that were utilized within the Stonewall riots, in which solicitation of same-sex relations was illegal in New York City, as well as ‘cross-dressing’ as they once called it, there still remains a stigma and a stereotype that seeps through society at all levels, including governmental. The legalization of gay marriage in the United States in June of 2015 was considered a momentous occasion, but only a stepping stone (granted a major one) in the continuing battle, as the United States (along with many other countries) continue to find ways to oppose the LGBTQ+ community, in conservative’s attempts in passing anti-gay legislation. While using the United States as a prime example, the rest of the globe similarly faces these harrowing conversations and further steps towards change. While the month of June may be one of summer enjoyment, it will always be one for celebration of the LGBTQ+ movement’s accomplishments, as well as a call to action for continuing work and support to further these rights.