One night everything changed. On June 28, 1969 when the police raided the Stonewall Bar in New York City something unexpected happened. It was a tipping point, the LGBT people fought back in what would later be called the Stonewall Riots.
The denial of respect, safety, equality and human dignity had run into a wall, a human wall of LGBT persons who drew a line in the sand and stood up for themselves en masse for the first time. A social movement for LGBT equality in the United States was born that night. This new movement had held demonstrations and protests in Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. in the 1950’s and 1960’s, but June 28, 1969 was its watershed moment.
The early LGBT leaders decided to commemorate the Stonewall Riots with the Christopher Street Liberation Day march in New York City on June 28, 1970. This march is understood as the first Gay Pride March in the United States. Similar marches challenging antigay discrimination and to celebrate LGBT life and culture were held in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Artist Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow gay flag in 1978 which is now the universal sign of LGBT pride and diversity.
We owe much to those early LGBT and ally pioneers who stood up, spoke out and courageously blazed a trail for us. Surely in every LGBT community and in every country around the world, the stories can be told of the first ones. Each generation gives rise to new LGBT and ally leaders all around the world. Let us remember the pioneers and celebrate the new leaders. Read more