The birth of pride

Cover by Joel McCarthy

Cover by Joel McCarthy

Celebrating the history of gay pride

By Jessica Berget, Staff Writer

 

On August 6, Vancouver will be commemorating its 39th anniversary of celebrating Pride. Pride in Vancouver began in 1973, when the Gay Alliance Toward Equality hosted their first pride event, a picnic at Ceperley Park. It wasn’t until five years later, in 1978, that the first Vancouver Pride Parade was organized, and since then Vancouver has been famous for having one of the biggest Pride parades in the world. To fully appreciate the celebration of Pride, it is important to understand the history behind it, the events that unfolded, and the people who made it all possible.

The year was 1969. Police raids at gay bars and clubs were a common occurrence, so much so that patrons would typically leave the bar and disperse within a matter of minutes, but in the early hours of morning on June 28, the patrons of the Stonewall Inn were fed up. Fed up with being constantly targeted by police, for being discriminated against, and for being unable to express their individuality, for the first time in history, they fought back.

The Stonewall Inn was a mafia-run gay club and bar on Christopher Street in New York City. The 1960s were not a welcoming time for LGBTQ+ folk, in New York especially. Solicitation of homosexual relations was illegal in the state during this time, and there was a statute in place that allowed police to arrest those who were wearing less than three gender specific articles of clothing. Because of these inequalities, the only place for gay, lesbian and trans folk to socialize freely was at gay bars. Naturally, they flocked to these clubs as a place of refuge. Only in the gay clubs could LGBTQ+ people express themselves, express their sexuality, and socialize with their community without anxiety. However, gay bars at the time were susceptible to raids by police as it was illegal to engage in publicly gay behaviour. It was also legal to deny a suspected homosexual alcohol because, as the New York State Liquor Authority argued, homosexuals gathering was in itself a disorderly act.

The New York City mafia saw a way to capitalize on the needs of the LGBTQ+ folk by opening up their own gay clubs and bars, and in 1966 they purchased, renovated, and reopened the Stonewall Inn, a previously straight bar and restaurant. Stonewall quickly became popular as a safe space for LGBTQ+ folk, drag queens (who were not welcome at any other institutions), and runaways or homeless youth. It was also one of the only gay bars that allowed dancing. Police still raided the club, but since the mafia paid them off to leave the club alone, they would receive a tip if the police were on their way. However, on that early June morning, that tip never came.

Armed with a warrant, police entered the club, roughed up patrons, and arrested about 13 people who were either employees at the club or violators of the gender clothing statute. Female officers would have to take violators to the bathrooms to check if their sex was in accordance with their clothing. Police raids were routine at the time, and patrons would usually leave the club and filter out quickly, but this time the gay community was tired of the constant harassment and fought back. Patrons and neighbouring residents stayed outside of the bar rather than dispersing and yelled at the police. They watched and became increasingly agitated as police arrested and man-handled several patrons.

It wasn’t until one officer hit a woman over the head as he forced her into a paddy wagon—she responded by shouting at onlookers to do something—that the crowd was incited to throw objects at the police. What happened next is still something of a mystery. Some say people started throwing coins at the police, a symbolization of the corruption of the New York state authorities. Some say Marsha P. Johnson, a trans woman of colour and gay rights activist, threw the first bottle. Some say Sylvia Rivera, also a trans woman of colour and activist, threw the first brick. As Kelendria Nation, a trans woman of colour educator and activist said, “The Stonewall riots are a bit of a folklore; no one knows what really happened or who threw the first bottle, but we do know that trans women were at the forefront.”

Within minutes, a riot erupted between the patrons of the Stonewall Inn and the NYPD. As police attempted to diffuse the crowd, the protest spread to neighbouring streets. Order was not restored until NYC riot police were called in. The crowd was eventually dispersed, but riots and protests continued on with as much as one thousand people. Six days of protests and violent demonstrations against the New York law enforcement followed the riot, becoming the first major protest for the equal rights of LGBTQ+ folk and serving as a catalyst of the gay rights movement.

Gay rights activists began plotting the first ever pride parade on June 28, 1970; exactly one year after the Stonewall Riots. They marched over 51 blocks, and at their destination they then held a “gay-in.” News of this picked up, Pride marches began happening all over America, and soon it became a yearly tradition. The birth of gay pride. The Stonewall Inn is now a monument, and Christopher Park  hosts a national monument with statues commemorating the people who paved the way for gay liberation. However, even though trans icons like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were major icons in the riots and in the gay rights liberation, they are not represented by these statues.

Marsha P. Johnson was a trans icon, drag queen, activist and revolutionary figure in the liberation of LGBTQ people. In 1970, she joined the Gay Liberation Front and met fellow trans activist Sylvia Rivera. The two quickly became good friends and created the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a gender nonconforming and transgender activist organization. They also founded the STAR house, the first housing organization that supplied clothes, food, shelter, and advice to homeless or troubled trans youth. They fought for their entire lives for the inclusion of drag queens and trans people in the pride movement until their unfortunate deaths, which were deemed suicides by the police. Johnson did have a history of mental illness, but close friends of hers have stated that she was never suicidal. Considering the violence that took place against trans people, especially trans people of colour in the past and even in the present (GLAAD claims that 15 transgender women of colour have been killed in 2017 alone), Johnson’s death as a homicide is plausible.

We hold our Pride events today because of the brave LGBTQ+ people who had nothing else to lose and fought hard for LGBTQ+ equality and representation. We have Pride not only to commemorate those people, but also to demand visibility, equality, and solidarity for all gay, lesbian, and transgender people around the world. You might not feel a connection to those who protested in New York in 1969, but it is only because of them that we are able to celebrate Pride at all.

It may seem like we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots, but we aren’t quite finished fighting yet.

The Other Press

The Other Press, Douglas College's student newspaper since 1976. Articles, insight and updates from the New West and Coquitlam campuses.

More Posts - Website

87 comments on “The birth of pride
  1. Wow, incredible blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
    you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is magnificent, as well as the content!

  2. What’s up to every body, it’s my first pay a quick visit of this weblog; this
    web site includes remarkable and actually good information in favor
    of readers.

  3. Magnificent goods from you, man. I have understand
    your stuff previous to and you’re just too magnificent.

    I actually like what you’ve acquired here, certainly like what
    you’re saying and the way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable
    and you still care for to keep it wise. I cant wait to read much more from you.

    This is actually a terrific web site.

  4. Hello there, just became alert to your blog through Google,
    and found that it’s truly informative. I am going to watch out for
    brussels. I’ll be grateful if you continue this in future. A lot of people will be benefited from your writing.
    Cheers!

  5. After going over a number of the articles on your site, I
    truly like your technique of blogging. I added it
    to my bookmark website list and will be checking
    back in the near future. Take a look at my website too and tell
    me your opinion.

  6. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t
    appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted
    to say superb blog!

  7. I’ll right away grab your rss feed as I can not to find your email subscription hyperlink or
    e-newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Please let me recognize so that I could
    subscribe. Thanks.

  8. Greetings I am so thrilled I found your blog, I really found you by error,
    while I was browsing on Askjeeve for something else, Anyhow I am here now
    and would just like to say many thanks for a incredible post
    and a all round interesting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read through it all at the moment but I have
    book-marked it and also added in your RSS feeds,
    so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the great work.

  9. Useful info. Fortunate me I discovered your site accidentally, and I am stunned why
    this coincidence didn’t happened in advance! I bookmarked it.

  10. I savour, result in I discovered exactly what I was looking for.
    You have ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day.
    Bye

  11. Sweet blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News.

    Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News?

    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!
    Many thanks

  12. I have been browsing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never
    found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me.
    In my opinion, if all website owners and bloggers made
    good content as you did, the internet will be much more useful than ever before.

  13. The other day, while I was at work, my sister stole my
    iphone and tested to see if it can survive a forty foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now broken and
    she has 83 views. I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  14. Hey there I am so happy I found your blog page, I
    really found you by mistake, while I was searching on Askjeeve for something
    else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say many thanks for a tremendous post
    and a all round thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to browse
    it all at the moment but I have saved it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be
    back to read much more, Please do keep up the fantastic work.

  15. We are a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community.

    Your website offered us with valuable info to work on.
    You’ve done a formidable job and our entire community will be grateful
    to you. minecraft free download 2018

  16. I absolutely love your blog.. Great colors & theme. Did you
    create this web site yourself? Please reply back as I’m
    attempting to create my own personal website and would like to know
    where you got this from or what the theme is named. Thanks!
    minecraft free download 2018

  17. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and
    I’m impressed! Very useful info specially the last part 🙂 I care for such info much.
    I was looking for this particular info for a long time.
    Thank you and best of luck. minecraft free download 2018

  18. I have been surfing online more than 4 hours today, yet I never found any interesting
    article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me.
    In my opinion, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you
    did, the internet will be much more useful than ever before.
    Minecraft free to play 2018

  19. Hi it’s me, I am also visiting this site regularly, this web site is really fastidious and the users are actually sharing good thoughts.
    Minecraft free to play 2018

  20. Hi there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it
    is really informative. I’m gonna watch out for brussels.
    I’ll be grateful if you continue this in future.
    Lots of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

    Minecraft free to play 2018

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*