Beginning on June 28th, 1969, the Stonewall Riots in New York City were a watershed moment for the LGBTQ+ community across the country and the world. In that time, displays of same sex relationships or transgenderism were punishable offenses, and LGBTQ+ people were openly discriminated against in mainstream culture. While there had been activists and calls for LGBTQ+ equal rights before Stonewall, the movement did not gain national momentum and attention until the riots. Due to the amount of people who took part, as well as sustained media attention, Stonewall kick-started an international movement of LGBTQ+ activism, employing new means of demanding equal rights.
A year after Stonewall, the first Pride parades were held across the country, with LGBTQ+ people proudly declaring their identities for the world to see. Quickly afterward, numerous LGBTQ+ organizations sprang up around the country, beginning the long process of protecting the rights and legalizing the existence of LGBTQ+ people. Since then, there have been tremendous advancements for LGBTQ+ people; including representation in government, the right to serve in the military, and the legalization of same sex marriage, just to name a few.
While the elevation of LGBTQ+ rights are undeniable, there are many hurdles still left to cross. For instance, LGBTQ+ youth are some of the most likely to end up homeless, and continue to face discrimination and harassment on a daily basis. Not to mention the recent onslaught of anti-trans laws and bills, stripping transgender people of their healthcare and ability to socially identify with their gender. This Pride Month is a time to stand up for LGBTQ+ people, elevate their voices, and work toward guaranteeing their rights and ability to express their true selves. However – and as always – this month is a time to celebrate, creating joy through embracing acceptance of those of all genders, identities and expressions. With this Action Hub, you’ll find many resources to make this June as impactful, rewarding and celebratory as possible.
As of 2020, more people than ever are self identifying as members of the LGBTQ+ community. This is reflective of – among other things – a greater social acceptance of LGBTQ+ people, making it easier for young people to publicly identify themselves as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. In the 50 years since Stonewall, LGBTQ+ rights have consistently been expanding, as their stories and perspectives garner mainstream attention. Yet, true acceptance is not yet a reality.
Many states do not have laws protecting people from discrimination based on their sexual and gender identities, meaning millions of Americans can be refused service or lose their jobs just because of who they are. And this does not even cover the numerous countries which still criminally prosecute LGBTQ+ people. Whether it is at home or abroad, we are still very far away from true LGBTQ+ equality.
Like many nationally recognized months, Pride Month has a two-pronged approach. Celebration is extremely important to Pride events, normalizing all sexual identities and genders by public display of pride and acceptance. However, equally as important is the advocacy angle to Pride, using national and global recognition as a time to demand change and true equality around the world.