June is Gay Pride month through out the United States and in several countries across the world. However, one of the things that has become increasing prevelant over the past 20 years, is the commercialization of the events. There are so many young people coming out to the Gay Pride parades and festivals that have no clue what these events were really meant to represent. No one has bothered to correct their sense of frivality and pointed out the serious side of all the parties and gatherings. I hope that as we move further and further forward from the original Pride March and parade that was held on June 29, 1970 that people remember what they are celebrating and supporting. To remember the men and women and transgender people that dedicated their lives and time toward the furthering of the Gay Rights and Freedom movement.
How many of you know about the Stonewall riots that happened on June 28,1969? This is the impetus that started the modern LGBT rights movement and organizing LGBT pride marches. What you may not understand is that during the 50's and 60's the United States was extremely repressive toward Gay and Lesbian people. In 1965, some organizations were formed to demonstrate and picket to inform and remind Americans that LGBT people did not enjoy basic civil rights protections, these led to Annual reminder marches. These marches took place each July 4, at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, until the police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar located on Christopher Street in New York City, which resulted in several beatings and deaths, which led concerned LGBT members of New York to riot and protest against the police force and their brutal tactics rioting went on for a couple of days. A handful of gay and lesbians got together and at the annual reminder march in Philadelphia that year in July proposed a March to remember and commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall riots for the following June. Which brought about the first Gay Pride March that was held on June 29, 1970, though the riots actually happened on the 28th which was a Saturday, it was decided that it would be celebrated on Sunday to get more people to attend.
In the 1980's and 1990's the climate changed as more and more grass root organizations gave way to more organized groups and the movement became more refined and less militant. It is also when world wide attention was brought to the AIDS epidemic, with the admission by Rock Hudson that he was gay and a face was finally placed on AIDS. Ronald Regan and his administration began allocating funding toward AIDS research. More and more information began to surface, as more and more victims succumbed to death. The 90's saw a a shift towards unity and remembering those of us who lost friends, family and loved ones. The AIDS quilt was born, and joining the battle for Gay Rights was the Equal Rights movement with it message of national equality for all.
Since 1970 week long celebrations of "Pride" have been celebrated in almost every major city in the United States, and now as I am writing this blog entry, there are several countries also celebrating Gay Pride and Unity throughout the world. Each year more and more attendees show up to celebrate their pride and sexual diversity, and each year more and more vendors and merchants come to our events and seek to make a profit from our community. In the early 2000's it came to national attention that the gay community had a surplus of excess cash and was spending larger amounts of money then other social groups. So commercialization of our events was inevitable. However, there has been an increasing trend to not remember the roots from which we came from and the sacrifices that were made on our behalf to be able to enjoy gathering and displaying ourselves in public.
What I would like each person to come away from my blog today with is that each of us has a responsibility to remember those men and women that gave their lives and made sacrifices, so that we can enjoy what freedoms we have today, and to stand out and up for our community and help forward the cause for equal treatment of all man. Stand against the bully's the tyrants and petty people that would hold us back, and keep from us the liberties and protections afforded everyone under the law. The Gay Pride movement and Equality Movements have so much more to gain with our support and remembrance of where it all started and what we have gained and how much further we have to go.
I encourage us to reach out to our youth and talk to them, tell them the story of our past, the sacrifices that have been made on their behalf, and why we are taking the time to celebrate our pride, diversity, and gender variance. That our mission is to promote acceptance within our community and without, we are seeking equal treatment and protection under the law, and the ability to decide without bias or prejudice who we want to be with and united with just like our heterosexual counterparts. I am not trying to downgrade or take away from the partying and festivities that surround our pride events, but I want to promote a sense of community, togetherness, a remembrance of the past and what our culture and lifestyle had to endure. To move forward in the future with a unity of purpose, a sense of belonging, and a tribute to those who paved the way before us, so that now we enjoy a much broader sense of freedom than ever before.
On closing I want to give you the definition of Gay Pride that I found on Wikipedia, where I conducted my research and got dates and places used in this entry. "Gay Pride, LGBT Pride or simply Pride is the positive stance against discrimination and violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people to promote self-affirmation, equality rights, increase their social visibility as a social group, build community, and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance. Pride, as opposed to the shame and social stigma, is the predominant outlook that bolsters most LGBT rights movements throughout the world."
So please this June as you go out and celebrate your Pride, please take the time to talk to others, say thank you to the leaders in your community and city for dedicating their lives to helping promote tolerance and acceptance and furthering the gay rights movement. Honor those who have gone before us and remember their sacrifices and hardships that they endured to provide us with the measure of freedom we now observe today. Remember men like Harvey Milk who gave his life for his belief in bringing equality to his friends, city and the world. Enjoy this time and have fun and be safe.
As always my hopes and dreams are with you.