Recently there’s been a lot of talk online about “heterosexual pride.” Straight people seem to feel LGBTQ+ folks think we’re better than them and that Pride is a representation of this thought. With Pride Month behind us by only a couple of months and other current media and online trends pushing the oppressor vs. oppressed dynamic (think: Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter, etc.), tension is building.
I think a lot of this is a simple misunderstanding. Allow me to try to explain the history of Gay Pride and why we need it (and why straight people don’t).
I’ve written a previous article regarding Stonewall, more specifically the horrendous 2015 movie that I recommend you never watch, which ran in the June 2016 issue, and while I did mention some of the history of Stonewall, I didn’t go into as much detail as I think it would require to show cishets that they don’t need a pride event of their own. So let’s do that now, shall we?
The year was 1969. Laws targeting gay men and women were numerous, and homophobic police officers took great pleasure in enforcing them. The Stonewall Inn was a small gay bar in Greenwich Village, and as such, it received its fair share of police raids. One night, June 28, 1969, the patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back. Bricks, bottles, coins, whatever could be found were hurled at officers trying to force the crowd back. Thus began what would become known as the Stonewall Riots, or, as I prefer to call it, the Stonewall Uprising.
This was the launching point of the modern American gay rights movement (note that at the time, LGBTQ+ identity was much less defined, and most people who would consider themselves trans today expressed their identity through drag without using the term transgender). The Gay Liberation Front was founded, along with myriad other organizations over time.
The first Pride Parade happened in Greenwich Village, New York City, right outside the Stonewall Inn, on June 28, 1970, exactly a year after the moment that changed everything. This parade wasn’t so gay folks could dress up in rainbow wigs and bras and leg warmers and march down the street so they could show how fabulous they were; the first Pride Parade happened to commemorate the Uprising that started the fire that would eventually change the lives of all LGBTQ+ Americans.
Now, I’m the first to acknowledge that many Pride events have drifted from their original purpose and have instead become flashy shows of frilly rainbow clothing or fairs where vendors can make money off of queer people who don’t know the difference between what Pride was and what Pride has become. But Pride didn’t start this way. Pride was (and at its core, still is) a celebration of the night our people decided to fight back.
The Stonewall Uprising isn’t over. It may never be over. So how can you say we should stop honoring the start of the fight, when the fight hasn’t even finished? How can you say that you need a Pride of your own, when you have no fight to be proud of? l