The evolution of a movement, from Stonewall to same-sex marriage
by Sarah Elizabeth Adler, AARP, June 4, 2019|Comments: 0
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The crowd attempts to impede police during a raid on the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village.
1969: Stonewall Uprising
En español | In the early-morning hours of June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular Greenwich Village nightclub, for the second time in a week — a common occurrence in an era when nearly all aspects of LGBT life were criminalized. That night, however, the crowd refused to disperse and patrons clashed with police as the confrontation swelled to include hundreds of demonstrators. Riots continued into the following week. The Stonewall uprising galvanized activists across the country and set into motion the modern LGBT movement — including pride.
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Participants march through New York City for the second annual Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day, later called Gay Pride Day, in 1971.
1970: First Pride Parades
One year after Stonewall, people commemorated the uprising with marches in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The phrase “gay pride” was also brand-new that year, coined by activists as a shorthand to unite the events planned as part of the fledgling movement. In 1971, pride went worldwide, with parades and demonstrations taking place in West Berlin, London, Paris and Stockholm.
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Pride flag creator Gilbert Baker heads the Stockholm Pride Parade in 2003. Baker died in 2017 at the age of 65.
1978: The Pride Flag Is Born
Gilbert Baker, who described himself as the “gay Betsy Ross,” created the first pride flag from strips of fabric dyed in trash cans in the attic of San Francisco’s Gay Community Center before the city’s 1978 pride parade. Each of the flag’s original eight colors had a meaning: pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sun, green for nature, turquoise for magic, blue for peace, and purple for spirit.
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People gather to view the AIDS Memorial Quilt, shown for the first time on Oct. 11, 1987, on the Mall in Washington, D.C.
1987: AIDS Memorial Quilt
While the pride movement brought LGBT life out of the shadows, the HIV/AIDS epidemic plunged the community into crisis. The AIDS Memorial Quilt was displayed for the first time on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., during the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. That weekend, half a million people visited the quilt, which covered a space larger than a football field and included 1,920 panels. The largest community art project in the world, the quilt is both a celebration of the lives lost to AIDS-related causes and a powerful reminder of the disease’s deadly toll.
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Attendees celebrate DC Black Pride in 2017.
1991: Origins of Black Pride
Activists Welmore Cook, Theodore Kirkland and Ernest Hopkins organized the first DC Black Pride in 1991. What started as an 800-person gathering is now a celebration that draws more than 300,000 people to Washington, D.C., each Memorial Day weekend. DC Black Pride is widely regarded as the catalyst for the black pride movement as a whole, inspiring the 30-plus celebrations that now take place across the country each year in cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York.
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A crowd gathers to celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, 2017, in Los Angeles.
2009: International Transgender Day of Visibility
In 2009, activist Rachel Crandall put out a call to action on Facebook. Tired of the lack of occasions dedicated to celebrating the lives and accomplishments of transgender and gender nonconforming people, she proposed one of her own: Transgender Day of Visibility. The grassroots holiday swiftly gained traction on social media and was adopted across the country and abroad. Observed each year on March 31, the day honors transgender and gender nonconforming people while raising awareness of the issues that jeopardize their lives.
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Same-sex marriage supporters celebrate outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on June 26, 2015.
2015: Achieving Marriage Equality
Pride events around the country had all the more reason to rejoice in 2015. On June 26, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, granting same-sex couples the right to marry in all 50 states. Thousands of supporters flooded the nation’s capital to celebrate the crowning victory in the fight for marriage equality, while millions more attended pride marches throughout the country.
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Valerie Jarrett, right, senior adviser to President Barack Obama, stands with former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.
2016: Stonewall National Monument
Nearly 50 years after the original uprising, the Stonewall Inn once more made history. On June 27, 2016, the inn, nearby Christopher Park and surrounding areas became a U.S. National Monument, the first dedicated to LGBT rights and history. The Stonewall Uprising, the proclamation reads, was the “turning point that sparked changes in cultural attitudes and national policy towards LGBT people over the ensuing decades,” and one worth honoring for generations to come.