Sunday, June 21, 2009
Around this time all over the world, LGBT and Allied people celebrate Pride with special festivals, parades, and events. These celebrations happen each year to commemorate something called the Stonewall Rebellion - viewed as a turning point for LGBT equality.
The Stonewall Rebellion was a series of riots - spontaneous, violent conflicts between lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied people and police, that took place for several days beginning in June 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. This was one of the first times that LGBTA people fought back against overt discrimination and violence in the United States. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.
Forty years ago, there were no out LGBT elected officials, no laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, no Will and Grace, no L Word, no LOGO Channel, no civil unions, no controversy over gay marriage (because there was no gay marriage), and no campus-based LGBT Centers anywhere in the country. (The first campus-based center came along two years after the events at the Stonewall Inn. A little pop quiz - anyone know at which institution of higher education this first occurred?)
Though there were other major clashes, as well as peaceful demonstrations, that took place in American cities before Stonewall, Stonewall is usually cited as the birth of the modern LGBT rights movement.
Celebrate Pride 2009 by learning more about pre-Stonewall events as well as the Stonewall Rebellion. The film “Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria” (shown on campus as part of the "Out of the Closet and Onto the Screen" film series) can be previewed here. The film documents events that took place in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood in 1966. And for a bit of east coast history, Philadelphia had been observing "Annual Reminder Day" each year for several years before Stonewall. The city of Philadelphia has erected a historic marker commemorating the Annual Reminder Day and its organizers, and has a special section of its tourism website devoted to Philadelphia LGBT history.
To learn more about Stonewall, the program In the Life has created a special podcast episode commemorating the 40th anniversary of Stonewall. Also this year, a plaque listing the names of 40 current day people engaged in the continuing quest for full LGBT equality will be placed at the Stonewall Inn next week.
To find a Pride event closest to where ever you are this summer, consult an online pride calendar. And no matter where you are this month, happy Pride! Have pride in who you are, in our communities, and in all that has been accomplished over the last forty years!
Next » « Previous