Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

History: GSWNY Celebrates Pride Month

This month, the GSWNY Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee is celebrating Pride! Throughout June, we’ll share more about the history of Pride, as well as highlights from LGBTQ+ representation in pop culture, highlights of community members, tips for allies, as well as local resources.

Pride celebrations can find their root in the Stonewall riots of 1969. What began as an all-too-common raid on gay bars led to changes that would define activism in the LGBTQ+ community.

Up until 1966, laws attempted to prohibit people from serving alcohol to gay people and, at the time of the riots, it was still considered a criminal offense if you were a homosexual. Because of this, gay bars often wouldn’t have a liquor license. It was this combination that led to frequent raids by police in bars all around the United States.

On June 28, 1969, police in street clothes entered the Stonewall Inn, one of the most popular gay bars in the city. Interrogations began and arrests were made. This is where the routine nature of the raid would end.

As patrons and employees were cleared and released, they joined the large crowd outside of the Stonewall Inn. The resistance continued to grow and the protests and riots lasted for the next week. Even when they stopped, the movement wasn’t done.

Many now credit the Stonewall Uprising as the start of gay pride and the liberation movement on a larger scale than had ever been seen before. In 1970, groups got together to organize the very first Pride march in recognition of the past riots. Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28 was a day for national demonstrations and between 3,000 and 5,000 people showed up for the inaugural Pride. Now, 51 years later, we honor these legacies during Pride Month in June. Millions march in New York City alone, and cities everywhere have their own celebrations. Around the world, we continue to march in June in the fight for equal rights for all.

LGBTQ+ Timeline from GLSEN (click here to read the full timeline)

  • 1924: Henry Gerber forms the Society for Human Rights, the first gay group in the US, but the group is quickly shut down.
  • 1950: The first lasting gay organization, the Mattachine Society, is formed in Los Angeles. 
  • 1952: Christine Jorgensen is the first American who comes forward publicly about being transgender and speaks openly about her experiences. For many, she is the first visible transgender person in the media. 
  • 1963: Bayard Rustin, noted civil rights activist and gay man, is the chief organizer behind the historic March on Washington, which culminates with Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. 
  • 1963: The first gay rights demonstration in the USA takes place on September 19th at the Whitehall Induction Center in New York City, protesting against discrimination in the military. 
  • August 1966: The Compton’s Cafeteria Riot (Stuff You Missed in History Class Podcast about it).
  • Jun 28, 1969 – Jul 3, 1969: Stonewall Riots
  • 1977: Harvey Milk becomes the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California when he wins a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. 
  • 1985: The first memorial to the Nazi’s gay victims is unveiled at the Neuengamme concentration camp, a pink granite stone monument inscribed, “Dedicated to the Homosexual victims of National Socialism.” 
  • 1989: Denmark becomes the first country in the world to legally recognize same-sex unions.
  • 1991: Audre Lorde is named State Poet of New York. She is a critically acclaimed novelist, poet and essayist who was also politically active in the social justice movements, a cofounder of The Kitchen Table Women of Color Press. 
  • 1997: Ellen DeGeneres and her television character, Ellen Morgan, come out. Ellen becomes the first television show to feature a lesbian or gay lead character. The show is cancelled the following year. 
  • 1998: Tammy Baldwin became the first openly lesbian candidate ever elected to Congress, winning Wisconsin’s second congressional district seat over Josephine Musser.
  • 2002: NYC expands the definition of “gender” to include protections for transgender and gender non-conforming people in employment, housing, and public accommodations in the NYC Human Rights Law. 
  • 2004: Massachusetts becomes the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage. 
  • 2006: Attorney and transgender activist Kim Coco Iwamoto is elected to the state-level Board of Education in Hawaii. She is the first openly transgender person to be elected to a state level office in the US. 
  • 2009: President Obama signs the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes and Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act, into law. The law expands the 1969 U.S. federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, and becomes the first federal law to include legal protections for transgender people. 
  • 2011: The US military policy “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” officially ends. This allows lesbian, gay, and bisexual people to serve openly in the military. The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” does not lift regulations barring many transgender people from serving. 
  • 2014: Laverne Cox is the first transgender woman to win an Emmy as an Executive Producer for Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word, a documentary. It aired on MTV.  
  • 2015: The Supreme Court rules that states are constitutionally required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, legalizing marriage equality in all 50 states. 
  • 2015: MTV’s critically acclaimed series True Life airs an episode covering the topic of living and being genderqueer, bringing to light for many viewers at home (beyond the introduction to the world outside of the gender binary) how to properly use the singular “they” and other neopronouns. 

Hometown Pride: History of Rochester Pride (Beginning in the 1970s)

While June is celebrated as Pride Month around the world to honor the Stonewall Riots on June 28, 1969, Rochester continues to celebrate Pride the second weekend in July. This allows for visitors from across New York state, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont and Canada to attend Rochester Pride. 

Some Local Celebrations

Did we miss your local celebrations? Email communications@gswny.org to let us know!

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