Throughout the month of June, you might find yourself wondering why you can’t find rainbow flags and body paint anywhere. Well, we hope you had a backup plan for whatever wild fun you had planned because June is Pride Month! During this time, we celebrate and bring awareness to LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and other) communities. And, we think you should too!
This article discusses the history of Pride, including when and where it began, what you can expect throughout the month, and some of the historical moments that provide context into why Pride is such an important part of so many lives. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Yoxly blog unless we tied it back to sexual health. So, we’ll also explore some stats about STIs within the LGBTQ+ communities.
When Pride Began and Why
Throughout history, members of the LGBTQ+ community have endured a long history of mistreatment. On June 28th, 1969, customers of the Stonewall Inn bar in New York City resisted police raids that had been occurring for decades in New York. This led to what we now know as the Stonewall Riots and inspired a movement across the globe.
The following year, Brenda Howard, a bisexual activist, organised the first Pride march, called the Christopher Street Liberation Day March. The event was a mix of celebration and protest and led to other organised events the following year in New York and other places around the world. There were reportedly about 2,000 attendees of these early parades.
Originally, this led to Gay Pride Day on the last Sunday of every June. As the one-day celebrations grew into month-long activities and events, the entire month of June turned into Pride Month. Now, it's estimated that over two million people attend the NYC Pride March every year and the Pride Parade in London sees around 1.5 million people.
Events Throughout Pride Month
Due to the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, many Pride events were cancelled or held digitally. With gathering restrictions lifted, many are looking forward to celebrating in-person events around the world again. This year's theme is art. And 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the first pride march in the UK in 1972.
If you would like to download or view resources to understand Pride better or get help with educating others, you can visit the LGBTQ+ History Month site. You can also find a list of this year's events.
Important Moments in Pride History
Obviously, one of the most critical moments in Pride history is the Stonewall Riots in 1969 and the first Pride Parades in 1970. There are other key moments to celebrate or know about as well.
1972: The First Pride March in London
The first Pride March in London attracted around 2,000 participants. Today, it draws close to a million.
1978: The Pride Flag is Born
The first pride flag was designed by Gilbert Baker, who dubbed himself the "gay Betsy Ross," using scraps of fabric dyed in trash cans in the attic of San Francisco's Gay Community Centre before the city's 1978 gay pride parade. Each of the original eight colours had significance: pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sun, green for nature, turquoise for magic, blue for peace, and purple for spirit.
1982: UK's first AIDS Charity
The Terry Higgins Trust was the UK's first AIDS charity, developed by Terry Higgins' partner Rupert Whittaker, Martyn Butler, and some friends after his death from AIDS in St. Thomas' Hospital.
1987: The AIDS Memorial Quilt
To commemorate and bring attention to the lives lost to AIDS-related causes, the AIDS Memorial Quilt was displayed at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in 1987. The quilt included 1,920 panels and covered a space larger than a football field. Half a million people visited the quilt throughout the weekend.
1988: Sir Ian McKellen Comes Out as Gay on BBC Radio
After Margaret Thatcher introduced a Local Government Act that stated that councils should not "promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship,” Sir Ian McKellen came out as gay on BBC Radio and helped form Stonewall to lobby against the act and others that set barriers to equality.
1991: Black Pride
Activists Theodore Kirkland, Ernest Hopkins, and Welmore Cook organised the first Black Pride in Washington, D.C., in 1991. This is widely considered a catalyst for the Black Pride movement and has grown from an 800-person gathering in 1991 to more than 300,000 people today in DC.
2004: The Civil Partnership Act Passes
The Civil Partnership Act gave same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex couples. In 2013, the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act was passed, legalising same-sex marriages.
The LGBTQ+ Community and Sexual Health
At Yoxly, we are sparking an international movement to normalise, destigmatise, and simplify sexual health. We believe in supporting education, promoting equality, and taking a proactive rather than a reactive approach. Unfortunately, LGBTQ+ people are disproportionately affected by STIs.
A significant part of this is due to the discrimination many in the communities still face. According to a 2017 National LGBT survey, at least 16% of survey respondents had a negative experience accessing public health services due to their sexual orientation.
Even with these inequities being recognised by the UK government, little action has taken place to resolve them. Critics suggest the reluctance to be due to the politicisation.
The Importance of Pride Awareness
Pride Month and other events and days throughout the year that promote Pride are essential to the health and wellbeing of all. Too often, LGBTQ+ communities are met with devastating hate crimes, exclusion, and prejudices. This not only affects their relationships with each other but their relationship with all humankind.
We hope you’ll take a few moments to celebrate Pride Month and educate yourself on how you can become an active ally within the LGBTQ+ community.