June is a month-long celebration for the LGBTQIA+ community. The intention is to honor those who took part in the Stonewall riots and commemorate the struggle for civil rights and equal justice.
Pride Day is often celebrated on June 28, this marks the first pride march in New York City. The date is flexible though and is celebrated on various days throughout June. The celebrations recognize the impact lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have had on history. It is also about self-affirmation for those in the community.
Although homosexuality has been documented since ancient times, in many cultures, homosexual relationships were seen as an abnormality. It was not only socially unacceptable, homosexuality was often seen as a mental illness that culminated in treatment or legal consequences. It was not until the late 21st century that restrictions were eased in many regions and countries globally.
What Does LGBTQIA+ Mean?
LGBTQIA+ is an acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual/Aromantic/Agender. The term LGBT has been in use since the 1990s and is often utilized as an umbrella term for sexuality and gender identity. In more recent times, additional letters and symbols have been added, such as the QIA+. The A often refers to the term Ace and is an umbrella term for individuals with low sexual desire. I refers to Intersex, those born with biological sex characteristics that do not match traditional male or female bodies. While the + symbol represents sexual identities that can not be described by letters and words. There have been more letters added to the acronym as awareness grows.
The Beginnings of Pride Day
The Stonewall riots are often referred to as the ‘first pride day.’ Occurring on June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village, New York City. Beginning on this night, bar patrons, staff, and neighbors rioted in the street for a total of six days. Their message? They wanted a safe place to go and be open about their sexual orientation gather without risk of arrest.
Acceptance of Pride Month
The riots in Stonewall kicked off ‘pride’ around the world. While there was a sense of community well before, the protests brought all kinds of people together in solidarity. In October 1979, nearly 75,000 people took part in the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. It remains the biggest political gathering in support of LGBT rights to this day.
U.S. President Bill Clinton was the first to officially recognize June as Pride Month in 1999 and 2000. While President Barack Obama declared June as LGBT Pride Month. This was further endorsed and expanded to LGBTQ+ by President Joe Biden. In other countries, Pride Month is celebrated at various times throughout the year although many cities observe it in June. For instance, on June 5, thousands of people took part in Naruemit Pride 2022 in Bangkok, Thailand’s first LGBTQ pride march in 16 years.
Over the years, awareness due to protests and exposure in the media has made LGBTQIA+ more socially acceptable. Changing attitudes which have, in turn, changed the law, can be seen with same-sex marriage. As it has recently been decriminalized in many countries, hundreds of thousands of couples have tied the knot. However, this acceptance is divided by cultures, regions, and countries.
How to Celebrate and Show your Support
Festivities during Pride Month attract millions of people around the world. This June, you can show your support for the LGBTQIA+ community in many ways. You can take part in pride festivities occurring on Pride Day, the exact date will vary depending on where you are in the world. Aside from pride parades, celebrations include picnics, workshops, concerts, and parties. Memorials are also held this month to remember those who have lost their lives to hate crimes.
The LGBTQIA+ community has always shared a common bond and kinship against oppression. Nowadays, ‘pride’ and the sense of love and support have spread far and wide.
– Kristen Rive-Thomson
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