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The Origins of Pride Month as It’s Known Today

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People gathered in the street for Pride

Every June, the world celebrates Pride month to honor the contributions of LGBTQIA+ people and to fight to further LGBTQIA+ rights across the globe.

Though groups dedicated to LGBTQIA+ purposes had existed long before WWII, the post-war era, especially the 1960s, saw a boom in pro-LGBTQIA+ sentiment. Activists took tiny steps towards equality until one night in 1969, when they took a leap.

On June 28, Police stormed Stonewall Inn, a bar in Manhattan where gays and lesbians were known to gather. They arrested several patrons and put them into police vehicles. As tensions rose, onlookers eventually began to fight back. They forced homophobic cops to retreat, and the confrontation escalated to protests and violent clashes with the NYPD that lasted nearly a week. The Stonewall riots brought gay rights to the forefront of politicians’ minds, and it stopped being seen as a fringe issue.

The next year, activists marched through the streets of Manhattan to Central Park to honor the uprising. At the time, the march was called the Christopher Street Liberation Day March after the event’s organizers, but later took on the theme “Gay Pride” to counter ideas that homosexuality was shameful. Craig Schoonmaker, who created the term “Gay Pride,” said that he ditched his first idea of “Gay Power” because of how difficult it is for people to have power in the world, and because LGBTQIA+ people would be able to find happiness much easier by pursuing “Pride” rather than “Power.”

This march is considered America’s first Pride parade, and it drew 3,000-5,000 participants. Now, the world celebrates Pride month every June, with parades drawing crowds in the millions. In fact, so many cities wish to hold Pride parades that many of them look to InterPride, an international organization that manages Pride celebrations across the globe, to make sure their parade dates aren’t too close.

This year marks Seattle’s 50th anniversary of celebrating Pride. The parade will be held June 30th in downtown Seattle.

Bellingham is also home to several Pride Celebrations. Just last Saturday, June 1st, LGBTQIA+ youth and allies marched a short parade route for the Whatcom Youth Pride Parade, which ended in a festival at BHS. Pride in Bellingham will also be hosting several events, such as a Pride Family Picnic on Saturday, July 6th and a Pride Parade on Sunday, July 7th.

LGBTQIA+ activists have made significant progress over the years. In 2000, former President Bill Clinton officially named June Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, and in 2009, former President Barack Obama changed the title to the more inclusive Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month and lifted a ban on HIV-positive people entering the country.

In 2015, gay marriage was federally recognized through the Obergefell v. Hodges case, and just a year later in 2016 former President Barack Obama created the Stonewall National Monument to honor the Stonewall Riots.

While it’s important to celebrate the victories, it is also important to acknowledge that the LGBTQIA+ rights movement still has room to grow. In the past few years several anti-LGBTQIA+ bills have been passed in America. The fight for equal rights is not yet over, so activists must not allow themselves to become complacent or to fall into the trap of thinking that all problems have been solved.




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About the Contributor
Jones Walther
Jones Walther, Editor in Chief
Jones Walther is one of the founders of Bellingham High School's student run newspaper, the Bayhawk Bearer. She and Skyla Otto began planning for the paper in 2021 during their Sophomore year, and when it took off in their Junior year, both of them took up the mantle of Co-Editor in Chief. Jones is an avid cat lover and hopes to pet many cats before she reaches old age.