(IMAGE: FRED W. MCDARRAH)
So yesterday’s post about LA Pride got few comments like ” Why the fuck do we need a parade? We can all marry in LA!” or “Why do gays have a parade in 2014, straights don’t have a parade?”.
Ok let’s do some education 101 here.
The parade has become a vehicle to showcase LGBT pride, a celebration, a manifestation of the “out-and-proud” mantra to put the lights on the LGBT community. But the history of the parade comes from less celebratory roots tied more towards political activism and protests.
On June 28, 1969, a riot broke out at the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in downtown Manhattan. Police had been known to raid the club from time to time, but on that night, the patrons fought back. A protest broke out, with police and community members clashing through the night, and for the rest of the week.
That was 45 years ago, and it was the spark that ignited the beginning of the gay rights movement, which has snowballed into a much larger movement for the entire LGBT community.
In 1970, the first gay pride event, called the Christopher Street Liberation Day (CSLD) March, was organized to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall riots. People gathered all over town and marching on 6th Avenue from Greenwich to Central Park. Soon other commemorative marches took place in other cities like LA. There were no floats, no music, no sexy boys wearing speedos. Instead there were banners and signs and people were chanting “Say it clear, say it loud. Gay is good, gay is proud.”
“We still call ours a march to show our respects and commemorate the history of what these events started out as originally,” he writes via email. “We have said that once the LGBT community no longer faces discrimination and hate worldwide we will then identify the march as a parade” says Chris Frederick, the managing director of NYC Pride.
Over the years, parades have evolved into pure celebrations, with drag queen contests, costumes and celebrity appearances.
Why doing a Parade?
The necessity of doing a parade is that there is still work to be done! Not everybody is equal yet, there are still people in the closet, some people are being killed for being gay in some parts of the world, LGBT people die each year committing suicide because their family doesn’t accept them and the positivity and unrepressed nature of the parade can be very inspiring. It is also simply fun! In a movement that is so frequently grabbing headlines for issues such as marriage inequality and bullying against LGBT youth, it’s even more imperative to balance that out with an image of fun and cheer.
“There will always be that 16- or 17-year-old kid who doesn’t necessarily realize they are part of something much bigger than they ever anticipated,” Frederick says. This alone, is a reason to celebrate!
So Happy Pride Month guys and celebrate thinking about others who don’t have the same rights that we have and commemorating what others went through to get us where we are!