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Why is Pride celebrated and How Does This Powerful Event Shape Us and Our Future?

Content warning. Please note the topic being discussed including phrases being used, statistics, and images could trigger or upset readers. Reader discretion is advised.

Image credit to Margaux Bellott on Unsplash

Back in the 1960's...

In New York, same-sex relationships were illegal. Gay bars and clubs were established for individuals to express their sexuality freely without worry of violence or harassment. Throughout this time, across New York, numerous establishments were raided, leading to activist movements and protests throughout New York.

In 1966, 3 years prior to The Stonewall Riots. As a result of the protests that had taken place to support the LGBTQIA+ Community, and their rights, they were allowed to be served alcohol. However, those who did not identify as straight, could not kiss, hold hands or dance with someone of the same sex, as this was still considered illegal.

The Stonewall Inn was previously a "straight bar" but got renovated into a "gay bar" owned by the Mafia, who bribed the police to stay out of the bar's business. The Stonewall Inn allowed for drag queens, runaways, gay youths, and many others who did not want to out their sexuality, to feel safer and be themselves.

Pride later became a result of what's known as The Stonewall Riots, (also known as the Stonewall Uprising). This began on June 28th, in 1969 when the New York Police raided The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City. During the early hours, they arrested 13 people including staff. This caused a commotion with both those who visited the Inn and the surrounding area. On-lookers were disgusted by the way the police man-handled those within The Stonewall In. As a result, they began protesting. This led to a fire throughout the establishment leading to some protesters dispersing of the area, meanwhile others, continued to protest for around 5 days.

What happened after the protests?

Although it was not this specific series of events which started the gay pride movement. It is the collectiveness of multiple communities coming together to stand up for protecting human rights. As a result, The Gay Liberation Front was the first group to publicly advocate for equal gay rights.

On the one-year anniversary from the Stonewall Uprising was the first Gay Pride Parade on June 28th, 1970, where thousands marched from Manhattan to Central Park. In 2016 President Barack Obama designated The Stonewall Inn and its surrounding areas as a national monument to recognise the significance of the event.

Now throughout many cities and countries around the world, Pride Month honours those that were part of the most important gay rights protest. Pride Month is not only for parties and marches it is also for creating memorials for those lost in protests and who contracted and unfortunately died from HIV/AIDS.

In the last few decades who or what people choose to identify as, and who they choose to love is significantly more socially acceptable and has since allowed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals to be able to openly serve in the military, and same sex couples can now legally wed and adopt children in all 50 states in America.

How have previous views upon sexuality affected the LGBTQ+ Community?

Over many years the LGBTQIA+ Community have suffered discrimination and pressure to fit into societies 'norms', which are ever changing. This discrimination occurs in schools, the workplace, and social settings in everyday life. And still continues to. Previous views have resulted in people being imprisoned, punished, abused physically and mentally having abuse hurled at them due to others having a lack of understanding and education in regards to the LGBTQIA+ Community.

In the UK discrimination is happening less so due to more people becoming part of the LGBTQIA+ Community. According to the Census data in 2021 shows an increase in the younger generation identifying their sexuality. An estimated 2.7% of the UK population aged 16 years and over identified as Lesbian, Gay, or Bisexual (LGB) in 2019, an increase from 2.2% in 2018. However, this does not mean that there still is not discrimination in parts of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Every June when pride Month comes around it is not to just celebrate what sexuality people identify as, but it is also to educate and ensure people are constantly aware of others, what they stand for and believe in and to respect others. The LGBTQIA+ Community has a chance to support one another collectively and educate younger generations to reduce the amount of harassment and violence in the future.

How will educating younger generations help stop the discrimination towards the LGBTQ+ Community?

There are numerous things that can be done with the younger generation to reduce discrimination in the future, but the one that will have a lasting impact from them transitioning from children to adults is education. Teaching the younger generation inclusively is important as bullying comes from a lack of understanding.

As it is being seen even some children are asking for this topic to be brought up in their learning. Understanding not everyone was raised the same, but to not make people feel isolated or unwanted if they believe in something different you or identify in a different way to you.

So, not only in Pride Month should we be celebrating who people choose to identify as and who they choose to love. We should support and stand up for the LGBTQ+ Community all the time to start making a difference.

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