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09th Jun 2020

Pride started not as a party, but as a protest

Fran Golinski Drinkwater


We must not forget the beginnings of Pride

For the first time since the Stonewall riots, Pride celebrations have been cancelled. But we still have so much to celebrate this month.

More than ever, LGBT people are remembering pride’s roots as a riot that started in a bar in New York.

Last year, London pride saw Kylie Minogue headline and it’s hard to imagine a more mainstream face of what has become a commercialised enterprise. It is strange to think that only 50 years ago, the world was very different for LGBT people.

But, like the Black Lives Matter movement spreading across the globe, pride started as a protest by marginalised people.

In the 1950s and 60s, there were very few places that welcomed LGBT people. The Stonewall Inn was owned by the Mafia, the only ones with the power and resource to pay off the police.

When the police raided the bar one night in 1969, which was not uncommon, the patrons fought back. It was black, trans women, drag queens and butch lesbians who led the uprisings, whatever film representations might show.

Though they did not end persecution of LGBT people, they certainly sparked a movement. The next year, the first gay pride marches were held in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, to commemorate the riots.

Lockdown has meant many LGBT people are isolated from each other and their communities, and some are living with households where they are not accepted. Pride might be the only time in a year when LGBT people feel safe and accepted. Many remember their first pride as a truly life changing experience. It being cancelled is a massive disappointment.