A Guide to Pride
By George Hughes
During the month of June, LGBTQIA+ communities celebrate Pride month with a variety of different activities and events.
What is Pride month?
Pride month is an event that takes place every year in June. Across the world, LGBTQIA+ communities hold events throughout the month of June to recognise and celebrate the influence that people from LGBTQIA+ communities have had.
Why did it start?
One of the most famous events in LGBTQIA+ history is the Stonewall Riots which started in the early hours of the morning on the 28th June, 1969. The Stonewall Inn was a gay club in Greenwich Village, New York. What started as a normal evening at the bar, ended with a police raid that would lead to events that would change history. During the 60s, police officers raiding gay bars was a normal occurrence, however, the backlash that came from the violence and the lack of control of the situation at the Stonewall Inn, led to six days of protests. The riots sparked outrage within the gay community meaning that many people joined forces in a fight for change. This started with groups and organisations being formed a few weeks later and led to newspapers being created (Matzner, 2015).
This was just the start. One year after the Stonewall Riots, Brenda Howard (also known as the Mother of Pride) organised a rally to honour the first anniversary. The original idea was to have a week of events that would commemorate the actions that took place. This would go on to be the beginning of the annual Pride celebrations that we still hold today. Along with Robert A. Martin and L. Craig Schoonmaker, Howard propagated the word ‘Pride’ (More, 2019).
Is Pride month just about celebrating?
Pride month is not just about having parties and celebrating. It is also a chance to reflect on the fight that those have had before us, and a chance to raise political awareness about the issues still affecting LGBTQIA+ communities to this day. There is still a long way to go for LGBTQIA+ equality, with people facing discrimination daily and an ongoing fight for equal rights; this is just one way of joining forces and attempting to make a positive change.
Is it just a parade?
The parades are a key part of Pride, but there are lots of other events going on too. Lots of places put on a range of events from poetry events, and political and education talks, to street parties and concerts. There are a range of different activities to suit people’s interests. You can find out what is going on locally to you with a quick Google search.
Where did the rainbow flag come from?
The rainbow flag is a prominent feature that many people will recognise as a symbol for LGBTQIA+ communities. The flag was created in 1978 when Harvey Milk asked artist and designer Gilbert Baker to create a flag for San Francisco Pride. Baker, a Vietnam War veteran and drag performer, said that two years previously he’d had the idea to create a flag to represent the lesbian and gay community. After the celebrations of the American Bicentennial and the continual demonstration of stars and stripes, Baker realised that there was a need for a sign or symbol for the gay community (Smith, 2006). During this time, an image that was most familiar with homosexuality was the pink triangle. This was used by the Nazis to highlight and bring shame to those who identified as gay (Waxman, 2018). Baker wanted to use a positive sign that reclaimed visibility. He chose a flag because he saw flags as a powerful symbol of pride, and a rainbow as a ‘natural flag from the sky’ (Grovier, 2016). Over the years, the original eight-coloured flag has been reduced to six colours.
What do the original colours stand for?
Since 2017, we have seen changes to the Pride flag. Philadelphia City Hall were the first to add to the flag with black and brown stripes. This was to demonstrate the discrimination faced by Black and Brown members of the community. In 2018, Seattle added another five colours to the flag to represent trans, non-binary, intersex, those across the gender spectrum, and people of colour (Wareham, 2020). There was some confusion with stacking colours on top of each other, so designer Daniel Quasar added the new colours in the shape of an arrow to ensure that all colours were clear, and the less-visible communities were at the front. Daniel Quasar said, “The arrow points to the right to show forward movement […] and illustrates that progress [towards inclusivity] still needs to be made” (Quoted in Braidwood, 2018).
The Progress Pride flag was then born. The idea was to develop Baker’s original flag to show the diversity of the LGBTQIA+ communities and the many identities within, while also shining a light on those communities who lacked representation and visibility (Wareham, 2020).
What can I expect at a Pride parade?
Firstly, the parade is an opportunity for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities to come together to celebrate who they are. Allies are welcome (and encouraged!) to celebrate too! You don’t have to be a part of the LGBTQIA+ community or have to disclose your sexual orientation or gender identity in order to go to Pride. Pride is open to all who want to celebrate, and those attending create a safe and welcoming experience for all who attend.
Pride will be very busy! London Pride attracts 1.5 million visitors across Pride weekend, and Brighton receives around 500, 000. Here are some tips to ensure that you are staying safe at Pride events:
- Have a full phone battery in case you need to get hold of someone, or you just want to take lots of pictures!
- Agree on a meeting point with friends so you know where to find the rest of your group if one of you gets lost.
- Take water! It is a long walk and it can get quite hot during the summer months.
- Sunscreen! The British weather is unpredictable, so ensure you wear sunscreen to protect yourself.
- Plan your travel and hotel in advance. The likelihood is that hotels will get booked in advance. If you turn up to one on the day, there is a good chance that you won’t have anywhere to stay.
- Buy tickets for certain events early. Again, these sell out quickly, so if you want to see certain bands or get into certain events, ensure you buy these as soon as you can!
- Ensure you have your belongings and any valuables somewhere safe.
- Ignore protestors. Sometimes, Pride events can attract protestors who believe that being part of any of the LGBTQIA+ communities is wrong. If this happens, keep interactions brief. You do not have to engage with people if you do not feel comfortable to do so.
- Only do things that you are comfortable with. Remember that you have the right to say no to anything that you do not want to do.
Above all, enjoy yourself. Pride is a great way to be able to celebrate who you are. So, stay safe, have fun, be proud and enjoy!
Braidwood, E., 2018. This graphic designer has revamped the Pride flag to make it more inclusive. [online] PinkNews | Latest lesbian, gay, bi and trans news | LGBT+ news. Available at: <https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/06/12/designer-gives-pride-flag-an-inclusive-makeover/> [Accessed 7 June 2022].
Grovier, K., 2022. The history of the rainbow flag. [online] bbc.com. Available at: <https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20160615-the-history-of-the-rainbow-flag> [Accessed 7 June 2022].
Matzner, Andrew. Stonewall Riots. Virginia: GLBTQ. 2015
Smith, Charles Michael. “Behind the rainbow.” The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, vol. 13, no. 5, Sept.-Oct. 2006, p. 49. Gale Academic OneFile, link.gale.com/apps/doc/A151013892/AONE?u=anon~11ac65f5&sid=googleScholar&xid=2fa8fdfe. Accessed 7 June 2022.
Wareham, J (2020) Why Many LGBT People Have Started Using A New Pride Flag. Forbes.
Duberman, Martin. Stonewall. New York: Dutton/Plume, 1994.
Waxman, O., 2022. How the Nazi Regime’s Pink Triangle Symbol Was Repurposed for LGBTQ Pride. [online] Time. Available at: <https://time.com/5295476/gay-pride-pink-triangle-history/> [Accessed 7 June 2022].