Past and Present Pride

Past+and+Present+Pride

Gay rights are human rights. While this may, though in increasingly lesser moments, ring true in today’s society, the story was written very differently in decades past. Prejudice ran rampant throughout the streets of the fifties and sixties, and to combat this, the LGBTQ+ community proclaimed love and acceptance with the start of pride parades.

The first accounts of pride parades go all the way back to 1970, one year after the NYPD raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in New York City. The raid quickly turned violent as the patrons and employees of Stonewall fought back against the police.

“Street kids” were the first to fight back against police during a raid at the Stonewall Inn. PHOTO | CREATIVE COMMONS

After this, the LGBTQ+ community began to stand up for themselves in the face of hatred and discrimination. On Nov. 2nd, 1969, about four months after the Stonewall riots, Craig Rodwell, his partner Fred Sargeant, Ellen Broidy, and Linda Rhodes proposed the first pride march in New York City, and after getting the proper funding and votes, it was held on June 28th 1970, the one year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. It was called Christopher Street Liberation Day, and has since rebranded itself as the Pride Festival.

Pride festivals are held around the world in many major cities, including San Francisco, Boise and Atlanta. Taylor Pope, a junior technical theater major, attended Athens Pride in September. She appreciated seeing the inclusivity of all genders, sexualities, and even ages at the festival.

“It was my first Pride, and it was really interesting to see everyone having a good time,” Pope said. “Everyone seemed really comfortable and relaxed there, and they made it very family friendly. They had a tent set up with toys for little kids so that everyone could enjoy Pride.”

The LGBTQ+ community is known for being close-knit between queer people and their allies, and Pope saw this in action during Athens Pride, with people giving out hugs to those who may not be able to feel the paternal love others are used to.

“They had people there giving out mom and dad hugs,” Pope said. “They were also giving out freshly baked cookies. It was really sweet and the whole environment was super loving.”

Benjamin Thornburgh, senior mass communications major, attended Atlanta Pride in October. This was his first pride after coming out as queer, and although the massive crowd appeared daunting at first, Thornburgh quickly adapted to the sense of community and love that filled the air.

“Despite the enormity of the crowd, something that would usually freak me out, it felt like such a close-knit hospitable community,” Thornburgh said. “I’m fairly recently ‘out,’ so I wasn’t expecting to be fully comfortable with myself at Pride, but the support and sense of community that I felt helped me embrace my identity in a way that I wasn’t expecting.”

As much as one would like to believe that society has moved completely forward in its belief system, the pride parades are also proof that there are still people that think with the mindset of a pre-Stonewall era. Pope recounted seeing protestors at Athens pride, but felt relieved that nothing grew as violent as it had in decades past.

“There were the people that were protesting there, and the people that wanted to fight them so they would leave,” Pope said. “But ultimately, they left because everyone got distracted by the drag show, so that became super fun.”

The LGBTQ+ community has come a long way since their troubled societal beginnings. Yes, there are still people who are beaten, fired and discriminated against for being their most authentic selves. The Trump administration is doing nothing to advance the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, and has in fact begun to reverse progress for transgender citizens. However, with all the hate that has been brewing against them in society, the LGBTQ+ community and their allies are able to celebrate and breathe easily at pride, if only for a day.

“At Pride, I saw every identity being celebrated by a massive community,” Thornburgh said. “It was incredible to be in a place where queer people could feel the comfort and love that they deserve every day. A place where those who don’t have support at home could truly be themselves. A place where love was seen as beautiful.”