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Key Moments in LGBTQ Pride History

The evolution of a movement, from Stonewall to same-sex marriage

1969: Stonewall Uprising

spinner image Stonewall Inn nightclub raid
NY Daily News Archive/Getty Images

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 LGBTQ 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 LGBTQ movement — including pride.


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1970: First Pride Parades

spinner image An L G B T parade through New York City
Participants march through New York City for the second annual Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day, later called Gay Pride Day, in 1971.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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.

1978: The Pride Flag Is Born

spinner image Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow colored flag
Pride flag creator Gilbert Baker heads the Stockholm Pride Parade in 2003. Baker died in 2017 at the age of 65.

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.

1987: AIDS Memorial Quilt

spinner image The AIDS Memorial Quilt is shown for the first time on the Mall in Washington D C
People gather to view the AIDS Memorial Quilt, shown for the first time on Oct. 11, 1987, on the Mall in Washington, D.C.
Getty Images

While the pride movement brought LGBTQ 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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1991: Origins of Black Pride

spinner image Black pride parade in Washington D C
Attendees celebrate DC Black Pride in 2017.
Tim Brown / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

2009: International Transgender Day of Visibility

spinner image Members of the transgender and gender non binary community and their allies gather to celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility
A crowd gathers to celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, 2017, in Los Angeles.
ROBYN BECK/Getty Images

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.

2015: Achieving Marriage Equality

spinner image People celebrate the supreme court ruling allowing gay marriage
Same-sex marriage supporters celebrate outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on June 26, 2015.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

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.

2016: Stonewall National Monument

spinner image The plaque honoring the Stonewall National Monument
Valerie Jarrett, right, senior adviser to President Barack Obama, stands with former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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 LGBTQ rights and history. The Stonewall Uprising, the proclamation reads, was the “turning point that sparked changes in cultural attitudes and national policy towards [LGBTQ] people over the ensuing decades,” and one worth honoring for generations to come.

2020: U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Protects LGBTQ Employees

spinner image demonstrators for l-g-b-t-q rights protest outside of the supreme court with a rainbow flag
On October 8, 2019, the Supreme Court holds oral arguments in three cases dealing with workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.
SAUL LOEB / Getty Images

Pride month in 2020 was marked by a historic ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court: LGBTQ employees are protected from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A landmark victory for the LGBTQ community, the 6-3 ruling in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County extended protection under federal antidiscrimination law to LGBTQ employees in all 50 states.