June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month in the USA. The entire month is a time for LGBTQ people and others to celebrate, honor their history, and support their communities.
To celebrate Pride Month, communities organize pride parades and events across the USA. The events vary, but all of them are meant to honor and support LGBTQ people. There are parades, picnics, parties, workshops, concerts, and more. Participants often wear colorful clothing, and some wave LGBTQ flags.
Pride Month is a time to celebrate but also to remember. At nighttime gatherings, people hold candles and listen to speeches. They remember LGBTQ people who have died because of anti-LGBTQ violence or AIDS.
Pride Month history
Pride Month started after the 1969 Stonewall Riots in Manhattan, New York. The Stonewall Riots were a response to police violence against LGBTQ people. They are seen as the start of the Gay Liberation Movement in the USA. Police broke into the Stonewall Inn, a popular LGBTQ bar. They arrested people who were dressed in clothes of the opposite sex. The community responded with protests and riots. The riots were led by transgender women and lasted three days. The most famous of trans leaders were named Marsha P. Johnson and Silvia Rivera. Those riots were not peaceful, but they inspired today’s peaceful Pride parades.
Fighting for equal rights
In the USA, LGBTQ people do not have equal rights in all states. LGBTQ couples are not always allowed to do things that non-LGBTQ couples can do together. Sometimes they are not able to rent a home, adopt a child, apply for a bank loan, or visit each other in the “family” section of a hospital. Transgender people are often blocked from getting healthcare, applying for jobs, or even joining the military. For many years, lesbian and gay people were not allowed to get married in all the states. Some states passed laws to allow people to marry but later took the rights away. In 2015, the Supreme Court allowed people to get married in all 50 states. It was a proud, historic day. It would not have happened if the LGBTQ community did not fight for their rights.
In the 1980s and 1990s, thousands of LGBTQ people were affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Many of them were gay men and transgender women. HIV is a virus that affects the immune system. Without treatment, it becomes AIDS. When people first became infected with HIV, scientists and doctors did not understand the disease. Many people died because there was no cure or treatment. LGBTQ people protested because the government was not doing research. A large group of activists, called ACT UP, organized public “die-ins.” At these events, people would lie on the ground to show how the crisis was affecting people. In 1987, thousands of people created a quilt and displayed it in Washington, DC, to remember those who had died of AIDS. The LGBTQ community helped people learn about this disease. Because of them, more medical research has been done to find cures and treatments.
During Pride Month, many groups, organizations, and communities show support for the LGBTQ community by displaying the Pride flag. The Pride flag was designed in San Francisco in 1978 by artist Gilbert Baker. It is a rainbow flag that represents the diversity of genders and sexual orientations in the community.
There are other flags for groups within the LGBTQ community. There is a separate transgender flag to support transgender people, who face different struggles. Transgender people face more violence and discrimination, and they commit suicide more than other groups. They have fewer rights and are still fighting for the acceptance that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer people have. There are separate events and parades that focus on transgender people. The blue stripes represent the male gender and the pink represents the female gender. The white stripe in the middle is to symbolize people who are transitioning from one gender to another.
Pride Month does not just take place in the USA. Around the world, the LGBTQ people are working to create community, fight for rights, and educate others. There are Pride parades around the world. They may look different, but all Pride parades support the LGBTQ community by providing visibility. If you do not know the LGBTQ community or want to find friends in the LGBTQ community, Pride Month is a way to learn and celebrate.