The History of Pride

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Words by Olivia Girling

Pride London 2016 is almost upon us, and this year it could be considered more important than ever. Following what can only be considered as truly horrific events across the world over the past couple of months, now is the time to unite and be proud of who we are and who we love.

People have been fighting for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and questioning people from as early as 1811, when the Netherlands began to decriminalise homosexual acts, although such acts have been looked down upon since 1075 BC in which soldiers were castrated for participating in male-to-male intercourse.

Despite having moved on a lot since then in terms of LGBTQ rights, there is still a long way to go. Over the past 60 years hundreds of thousands of people have dedicated their time to fighting for equality, be it by founding organisations, or through the famous Pride marches. But where did it start, when was the first Pride event and how did it come about? What have LGBTQ activists achieved in the last 6 decades? Keep reading and maybe you'll find out something new today.


Alex's 50s look: dress | sunglasses (similar)
  • 1950 saw the publication of what is considered to be one of the most important works in the history of the gay rights movement: The Homosexual in America: A Subjective Approach by Donald Webster Cory
  • The Mattachine Society, one of the earliest gay rights organisations in the United States, was formed in November 1950 after two years of planning
  • In 1951, the country of Jordan legalised private, consensual and non-commercial sodomy among adults over the age of 16
  • Christine Jergensen underwent sex reassignment surgery in 1952, making her the first widely publicised person to undergo such an operation
  • The Daughters of Bilitis organisation was founded in September 1955, making it the first American organisation specifically for lesbians
  • The word 'transsexual' was coined by US physician Harry Benjamin in 1957


Reuben's 60s look: shirt | waistcoat (similar)
  • The word 'pride' was used for the first time in relation to LGBTQ issues in 1967, when P.R.I.D.E (Personal Rights in Defence and Education) organised protests against violent police raids at LGBTQ bar, The Black Cat Tavern
  • In 1967 the first bookstore dedicated to only stocking work from gay and lesbian authors - named The Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop - opened in New York City
  • The Stonewall Riots took place in June 1969, and are still considered to be the single most important event leading to the modern fight for LGBTQ rights in the United States and across the world


Sophie's 70s look: blouse | trousers
  • The first LGBT Pride Parade in history was held in New York in 1970
  • In 1972, Sweden became the first country to allow transsexuals to change their name and sex on legal documents, as well as providing free hormone therapy
  • The Quaker group 'Committee of Friends on Bisexuality' issued a statement in 1972 that was the first recorded circumstance of an American religious assembly addressing bisexuality
  • The rainbow flag was first used as a symbol for homosexual pride in 1978
  • In Sweden a number of people called in sick to work in 1979 with a case of "being homosexual" in protest of homosexuality being classified as an illness - this classification was removed in Sweden within a few months of the incident


Olivia's 80s look: blouse | trousers (similar)
  • 1980 marked the founding of the Human Rights Campaign Fund by Steve Endean
  • Laguna Beach, CA made history by electing the first openly gay mayor in United States history in 1982
  • Becky Smith and Annie Affleck became the first openly lesbian couple in America to be granted joint adoption of a child in 1986
  • The article The Bisexual Movement: Are We Visible Yet? Was published in the official Civil Disobedience Handbook in March 1987, making it the first article about bisexuals to be published in a national LGBTQ publication


Matt's 90s look: jacket | top | dungarees
  • In 1990 the World Health Organisation declared that homosexuality was no longer considered an illness
  • The UK LGBTQ organisation OutRage! was formed in 1990
  • 1991 marked the first use of the red ribbon as a symbol of the campaign against HIV/AIDS
  • The pink/purple/blue bisexuality flag was initially unveiled in 1998


Olivia's 00s look: sports bra | trousers
  • In 2000 the blue/pink/white transgender flag was first shown at a pride parade in Phoenix, Arizona
  • Germany officially apologised to lesbian and gay people that were prosecuted by the Nazi regime in 2000
  • A Simpsons episode in 2005 was dedicated entirely to the topic of same-sex marriage
  • Ellen DeGeneres became the first openly LGBTQ person to host the Academy Awards in 2007

The Stonewall Riots (1969)

In the early hours of June 28, 1969 a police raid took place at LGBTQ bar, the Stonewall Inn located in Manhattan, New York. Following the raid, many members of the LGBTQ community took it upon themselves to riot and protest again the police raids on places in which they felt safe, which was a regular occurrence at the time.

The riots are still renowned as one of the most important events leading to the gay liberation movement of the late 1960s. During the 1960s, very few establishments welcomed openly LGBT people, although the Stonewall Inn opened their doors to the most marginalised people in the community such as drag queens, trans people and male prostitutes.

On June 28, 1970, the first pride march was arranged to mark the one year anniversary of the event, covering 51 blocks of New York, from Christopher Street to Central Park. The march was documented on the front page of The New York Times. As well as this, there was also a march organised in Chicago by the Chicago Gay Liberation the same weekend.

Nowadays, the majority of pride events take place in cities all across the world including London, New York, São Paulo and Tel Aviv, with many of them falling on the last Saturday of June to commemorate the Stonewall riots.

Will you be going to any pride events this month? Let us know how you're preparing to have a wonderful time. And remember; be who you are, love who you love, and live the life you want ♥­