Pride Month is celebrated every June in tribute to those involved in the Stonewall Riots, and we’re getting ready to dust off our rainbow flags, douse ourselves in glitter, and go join in the fun. With parades, festivals and concerts going on across the globe, there’s always some way for you to get involved — as well as learn some important social history along the way.
History of Pride Month
On a hot summer’s night in New York on June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village, which resulted in bar patrons, staff, and neighborhood residents rioting onto Christopher Street outside. Among the many leaders of the riots was black, trans, bisexual woman, Marsha P. Johnson — leading the movement to continue over six days with protests and clashes. The message was clear; protestors demanded the establishment of places where LGBT+ people could go and be open about their sexual orientation without fear of arrest.
Pride Month is largely credited as being started by bisexual activist, Brenda Howard. Known as, “The Mother of Pride,” a year after the Stonewall Riots, Brenda organized Gay Pride Week and the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade. This eventually morphed into what we now know as the New York City Pride March, and from where parades and marches across the world evolved.
Speaking of the rainbow flag, it was actually gay politician, Harvey Milk, who asked a talented designer friend, Gilbert Baker, to design an all-encompassing symbol to take on San Francisco’s Pride March in 1978. Sadly, Harvey Milk was assassinated along with Mayor, George Moscone, on November 23, 1978 in San Francisco City Hall by Dan White, a disgruntled former Supervisor, who was angry at Milk who had lobbied hard against having him reappointed on the Board of Supervisors.
Bill Clinton was the first US President to officially recognize Pride Month in 1999 and 2000. Then, from 2009 to 2016, Barack Obama declared June LGBT Pride Month. In May 2019, Donald Trump recognized Pride Month with a tweet announcing his Administration had launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality, although critics have noted that actions would speak louder than words.
The New York Pride Parade is one of the largest and most well-known parades to take place, with over 2 million people estimated to have taken part in the 2019.
Pride Month timeline
- June 26, 2015
Same Sex Marriage Rights
The U.S. Supreme Court makes same-sex marriages legal in all 50 US states
- June 25, 1978
The Rainbow Flag Flies High
Gilbert Baker's original design of the rainbow gay pride flag is flown at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade.
- June 28, 1970
First Official Pride Parade
Organized by pioneering bisexual activist, Brenda Howard, and a committee she put together, the parade saw supporters march from Greenwich Village to Central Park.
- June 28, 1969
The Stonewall Riots
NYC police raid the Stonewall Inn, instigating the Stonewall Riots.
The First LGBT organization
Started in 1946, the Netherland’s Center for Culture adopted a vague name to mask its then taboo purpose.
Pride Month FAQs
Where did the idea for the rainbow flag come from?
Designer, Gilbert Baker, got the idea for the rainbow symbol when he was dancing in a gay bar and high on LSD with his friend. It was after that he asked his friends to help him hand-dye and stitch together the eight colors for the pride flag.
Does everywhere celebrate Pride Month in June?
No. Although many countries have designated June the month to celebrate sexual diversity and LGBTQ+ rights, there are many others who celebrate with parades and festivals at different times of the year. The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Australia for example is usually starts in February every year.
Has the rainbow flag always been used to highlight gay rights?
Actually, amongst others, the pink triangle has also been a symbol for various LGBTQ+ communities throughout the world. Initially intended as a badge of shame and used in Nazi concentration camps to identify homosexual men, the pink triangle was reclaimed as a positive symbol of self-identity and gay rights in the 1970’s.
Pride Month Activities
Rep your flag!
Grab your rainbow, bi, lesbian, pan, ace, or any other flag of your preference and wave it with Pride! Each of the rainbow flag’s original eight colors has a meaning: pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sun, green for nature, turquoise for magic, blue for peace, and purple for spirit. Don’t have a flag? Then wear your colors on a t-shirt, a hairband, or on the laces in your shoes. You could even paint your face with the colors that represent you — be as creative as you like to show your support.
Join in a Pride March
Run, walk, skip or dance in a Pride March. You don’t need to identify as LGBTQ+ to attend a Pride March. Everyone is welcome to show their support of gay rights and equality for all, so check out what’s happening in your community and go join in the fun!
Get some know-how
Watch a movie that will give you more information about the serious message behind Pride Month. It isn’t just about festivals, rainbows and glitter. So, take some time to learn about the people who helped bring this movement together. “Milk” starring Sean Penn is a great movie to kick off with and charts the life of the first openly gay politician, Harvey Milk.
5 Ways Pride Is Celebrated Around The World
The Tel Aviv Pride celebration is the biggest of the LGBTQ+ community in the Middle East.
Visit the stomping ground of Oscar Wilde and Boy George, where the parade will take you on a tour around Piccadilly Circus, Lower Regent Street and Trafalgar Square.
Taipei is billed as Asia’s biggest LGBTQ+ event — even more of a celebration now since Taiwan’s parliament recently passed a bill endorsing same sex marriage.
The German capital’s Pride — technically called Christopher Street Day in homage to the Stonewall riots and New York City’s key role in the gay rights movement — attracts up to half a million people.
The Icelandic city has been celebrating LGBTQ+ diversity and solidarity every year since 1999, with the event now having swelled to a 10 day celebration.
Why We Love Pride Month
It’s for everyone
Pride Month is a time when the LGBTQ+ community comes together to celebrate acceptance of sexual diversity, but that doesn’t mean you can’t join in if you’re a bog standard hetero who’s proclivities are firmly on the vanilla side of life.
It’s fun with a capital F
It’s your chance to come out of your shell and join in with any number of parades, festivals, concerts and events going on in your community. It also gives you the chance to meet new like minded people, knowing that this is a celebration of acceptance and love.
It shines a light on LGBTQ+ issues
The emphasis may be on fun, but it's also the perfect time to think about and discuss issues related to the gay rights movement, especially as it gets more attention from news media during this time. From gay marriage and adoption to transgender rights. Although huge strides have been made for equality over recent years, we all still have a long way to go. Pride Month is a great opportunity to learn about the fight for what's right, and to pitch in as well!