Celebrating Pride, Finding Hope

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.

tumblr_lu007mJ9jG1qakuvdo1_400The 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.

In 2000 President Bill Clinton declared the June as Pride Month with a historic presidential proclamation. In 2009 President Barack Obama continued this tradition by declaring June as LGBT Pride Month. His presidential proclamation for this month offers an extraordinary vision of equality and justice for the United States and the world.

Let us celebrate each success, each step toward full equality such as Ireland’s vote for marriage equality and Mozambique’s new penal code being free of the colonial anti­homosexuality law. Our work for equality is far from over. Homosexuality is still a crime in 79 countries and the death penalty is a threat in 10 countries. Michael K. Lavers of the Washington Blade gives us a global view during this Pride Month.

As we celebrate pride, this is also a time for finding hope. Rev. Susan Russell, an Episcopal priest, shares a word of hope from a faith perspective. Archbishop Desmond Tutu is the embodiment of resilient faith that inspires hope. During this LGBT Pride Month, let us remember: “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” ~ Desmond Tutu

To celebrate Pride Month, the Global Faith & Justice Project is curating scenes of pride marches and celebrations from around the world on our home page. The website banner is a photograph from Khumbulani Pride in South Africa. The photograph above the label “blog” comes from Rio de Janeiro Pride in Brazil. The photo accompanying this blog post is also from Rio de Janeiro. The photograph above the label “Resources” on the home page comes from Cape Town Pride in South Africa. The photograph above the label “Partners” comes from Pinkdot in Singapore.