Kay Martinez shares "What does LGBTQ+ mean?" Watch Part 2 in the "One thing Pride isn't" section on this page.
June is Pride Month, a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, acknowledge and remember the past, and work toward an equitable future. With that in mind, Kay Martinez (pronouns: they/them/theirs), director of Lesley's Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Justice (EDIJ) Training Education and Development, shares the background on what Pride is and is not. Kay is a queer, non-binary Afro-Latine gender non-conformer.
1. Pride Month is in June to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising of June 1969.
The Stonewall Riots, also called the Stonewall Uprising, began in the early hours of June 28, 1969, when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The raid sparked a riot as bar patrons and neighborhood residents staged an uprising to resist the police harassment and persecution to which Americans identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBT+ — the plus symbol denotes additional gender identities and sexualities) were commonly subjected. The uprising resulted in 6 days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar on Christopher Street, in neighboring streets, and in nearby Christopher Park. In 2019, the NYPD formally apologized for their harassment of LGBTQ+ people. Activists decided to commemorate the Stonewall Riots with a march on the event's one-year anniversary: June 28, 1970. That first march was named "Christopher Street Liberation Day."
Black and Latine queer trans people to know include Marsha P. Johnson, Storme DeLaverie, Sylvia Rivera and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy.
Learn more about the Stonewall Uprising:
2. Pride Month also honors uprisings that predate Stonewall.
While Stonewall is particularly highlighted in June, Pride honors a long history of uprisings led by LGBTQ+ people that predate the Stonewall riots. A few uprisings to note:
1959: The Cooper Donuts Riot. Los Angeles, California.
1965: Dewey’s Lunch Counter Sit-In. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1966: Compton Cafeteria riots. Tenderloin District, San Francisco, California.
Learn more about other uprisings:
Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria
3. Pride is intersectional.
Black, Indigenous, Latine, and Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) activists are and have always been central to the LGBTQ+ movement. All celebrations of the LGBTQ+ movement should include BIPOC contributions, but they are often marginalized or erased. In 2017, activists and community organizers in Philadelphia created a new LGBTQ+ flag with black and brown stripes to highlight the racism that still exists within the LGBTQ+ community and uplift the contributions of LGBTQ+ people of color.
4. Pride Month was first formally recognized by President Clinton in 1999 and centered gay and lesbian people.
In 1998, President Bill Clinton issued Executive Order 13087 expanding equal opportunity employment in the federal government by prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. On June 11, 1999, President Clinton issued Proclamation No. 7203 for Gay and Lesbian Pride Month:
“Thirty years ago this month, at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, a courageous group of citizens resisted harassment and mistreatment, setting in motion a chain of events that would become known as the Stonewall Uprising and the birth of the modern gay and lesbian civil rights movement. Gays and lesbians, their families, and friends celebrate the anniversary of Stonewall every June in America as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.”
5. Pride Month was expanded to recognize the bisexual and transgender community in 2009 by President Obama.
On June 1, 2009, President Obama issued Proclamation No. 8387 (PDF) to include bisexual and transgender people, changing the name to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.
6. People who are not LGBTQ+ can celebrate and show their support of the LGBTQ+ community during Pride, too.
Celebrating Pride is not only for LGBTQ+ people. If you’d like to show your solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community during Pride and year-round, you can and should. Some events during Pride may ask to be closed spaces for LGBTQ+ people only to be mindful of what the space is intended for.
Ways you can be an LGBTQ+ ally:
Stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ individuals in your life.
Follow LGBTQ+ organizations and donate your time and energy as you’re able. Here are a few organizations to get you started: Marsha P. Johnson Foundation, Trans Resistance MA, Boston GLASS, Trans Lifeline.
Support LGBTQ+ media and small business owners.
Attend training and learning opportunities.
One thing Pride isn’t
Pride is not a one-time event—it is an ongoing commitment to advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.
While the LGBTQ+ community has made legislative and cultural gains, the struggle for equality is far from over in the United States and the world. LGBTQ+ people face hate crimes, discrimination, and in some countries, it is illegal to be LGBTQ+. During this month, make a commitment to advocate for LGBTQ+ people year-round and continue to educate yourself on the issues impacting this community.