Read this and brush up on your history, baby gays.
In its original incarnation, Pride wasn’t a party. It was an event that harked back to the LGBT community’s struggle for equality.
Even before the Stonewall Riots, the LGBT community had already experienced discrimination. Things weren’t easy back then, and there was no cause for celebration.
Homophobia in the 1900s
When the 1900s rolled in, homophobia spiked. Hate crimes broke out in several countries. Some people beat trans men and women to death. The police weren’t much help, either. In some cases, they were the perpetrators of these hate crimes. They let their homophobia take precedence over their sworn oath to protect everyone.
Codebreaker Alan Turing reportedly engaged in homosexuality in 1952. To avoid jail, he accepted hormone treatment, also known as chemical castration. He later died of cyanide poisoning.
Trans activist Marsha P. Johnson championed gay rights. She also raised awareness for AIDS. Her body turned up in the Hudson River in 1992. A controversial investigation culminated in the police ruling her death a suicide.
Homophobia caused LGBT students to drop out of school. Some committed suicide. Gay and lesbian athletes didn’t stand a chance. They couldn’t join tournaments because discrimination against them was rampant.
A glimmer of hope
The 1960s were especially hard for homosexuals. In New York, having sexual relations with the same gender became illegal. Since lesbians and gays liked to party, they went to gay bars and clubs where they could be free.
The government of New York didn’t like this, and they shut down any bar that would cater to homosexuals. They said these individuals were being “disorderly” by hanging out in a big group.
The government also conducted regular raids on several bars and clubs in the city. They jailed who they caught, and the homosexuals had to spend nights in prison. They were often beaten and tortured.
In 1966, the LGBT community saw a glimmer of hope. Several activists rallied for the gays’ rights to enjoy a night out with alcohol. Yet, public displays of affection were still considered illegal.
The Mafia’s involvement
Three years before the riots occurred, members of the Mattachine Society staged “sip-ins.” They went to bars and clubs and drank alcohol while flaunting their sexuality.
The police had their hands tied since the government eased up a little on homosexuals. The mafia saw this as an opportunity, and the Genovese family purchased the Stonewall Inn. It was a run-down club in the Greenwich Village, and they turned it into one of the most popular gay clubs in the city.
The club was welcoming, and it allowed dancing. It became a halfway home for some of the city’s runaway gays. Drag queens could perform there.
It was the frequent target of raids, but the Mafia was so powerful that even cops feared them. But that changed on June 28, 1969.
The Stonewall Riots
Police stormed the Stonewall Inn that day. They tried to arrest whoever they caught. A lesbian activist, believed to be Storme DeLarverie, fought the police. They tried to arrest her and roughed her up, which sparked a riot.
The police had to barricade themselves inside the club when the riot became too much to disperse. Reinforcements arrived, but the protesters overtook them once more. On June 29, the club re-opened. Granted, there wasn’t alcohol, but having their safe haven back was enough for the gays.
In the days to come, Stonewall Inn would become a gathering point for homosexuals in the city. The Mattachine Society would give birth to the Gay Liberation Front.
At first, the police still interfered from time to time. But they soon left the homosexuals alone. For the most part, anyway. On the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riot, the city’s first Gay Pride Parade took place.
The true origin of Pride Month
It wasn’t a street party. It was a protest. Lesbians, bisexuals, gays, transgender people, queers, and their allies walked 15 city blocks. They held up banners clamoring for gay rights.
Supporters cheered them on from the sidelines. Protesters were present as well, shouting slurs and insults. The police were there too, but only to keep the peace, for it was a peaceful rally indeed.
This parade kicked off a series of similar parades all over the world. Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles organized their own Pride activities. The Stonewall Riot gave birth to a global movement.
Even before the first Pride March in the country, there was a march by the Lesbian Collective. In 1992, they marched at the Internal Women’s Day celebrations. But they ran into progressive feminist movements that opposed them.
In 1993, UP Babaylan, a UP Diliman organization, joined the Lantern Parade for the first time. Their participation became an annual event from then on.
The first official Pride March in the Philippines occurred on June 26, 1994. A few LGBT groups organized it in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. The LGBT community and their allies marched to the Quezon Memorial Circle.
They carried flags and banners while chanting about Philippine social issues. They held a program at the Quezon Memorial Circle, starting with a Queer Pride Mass. Organizations like the Metropolitan Community Church and ProGay Philippines also gave talks.
From 1995 to 1998, the ReachOut AIDS Foundation organized Pride Marches. The marches happened in Malate, Manila. They also served to raise awareness for AIDS.
In 1999, Task Force Pride took over the Pride Marches. For the first time in history, a Pride March happened in December. TFP decided to move it to December so it would coincide with other human rights activities.
Philippine Pride Marches weren’t simple celebrations. They also served as wake-up calls to stop social injustice. Against who, you ask? People with AIDS and the LGBT community, of course. Until now, Pride Marches in the Philippines are part rally, part street party.
What Pride Month is now
Today, the Pride March is the culmination of several activities in June. These activities include parties and educational discussions on the history of Pride.
At its core, Pride is a celebration. In 1969, homosexuals fought for their rights, which was cause for celebration. In the years to come, Pride would evolve into many things. Different cultures interpret it in different ways.
The bottom line is, at Pride, you’ll experience parties, protests, and best of all, love.
Featured Image Daniella Sison