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Gay pride or LGBT pride is the positive stance against discrimination and violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people to promote their self-affirmation, dignity, equality rights, increase their visibility as a social group, build community, and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance. Pride, as opposed to shame and social stigma, is the predominant outlook that bolsters most LGBT rights movements throughout the world. Pride has lent its name to LGBT-themed organizations, institutes, foundations, book titles, periodicals and even a cable TV station and the Pride Library.
Ranging from solemn to carnivalesque, pride events are typically held during LGBT Pride Month or some other period that commemorates a turning point in a country’s LGBT history, for example Moscow Pride in May for the anniversary of Russia's 1993 decriminalization of homosexuality. Some pride events include LGBT pride parades and marches, rallies, commemorations, community days, dance parties, and large festivals, such as Sydney Mardi Gras, which spans several weeks.
Common symbols of pride are the rainbow or pride flag, the lowercase Greek letter lambda (λ), the pink triangle and the black triangle, these latter two reclaimed from use as badges of shame in Nazi concentration camps.
The 1950s and 1960s in the United States was an extremely repressive legal and social period for LGBT people. In this context American homophile organizations such as the Daughters of Bilitis and the Mattachine Society coordinated some of the earliest demonstrations of the modern LGBT rights movement. These two organizations in particular carried out pickets called “Annual Reminders” to inform and remind Americans that LGBT people did not receive basic civil rights protections. Annual Reminders began in 1965 and took place each 4 July at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
"Gay is Good"
The anti-LGBT discourse of these times equated both male and female homosexuality with mental illness. Inspired by Stokely Carmichael's "Black is Beautiful", Gay civil rights pioneer and participant in the Annual Reminders Frank Kameny originated the slogan "Gay is Good" in 1968 to counter social stigma and personal feelings of guilt and shame.
Christopher Street Liberation Day
Early on the morning of Saturday, 28 June 1969, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning persons rioted following a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar at 43 Christopher Street, New York City. This riot and further protests and rioting over the following nights were the watershed moment in modern LGBT rights movement and the impetus for organizing LGBT pride marches on a much larger public scale.
On November 2, 1969, Craig Rodwell, his partner Fred Sargeant, Ellen Broidy, and Linda Rhodes proposed the first pride march to be held in New York City by way of a resolution at the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations (ERCHO) meeting in Philadelphia.
"That the Annual Reminder, in order to be more relevant, reach a greater number of people, and encompass the ideas and ideals of the larger struggle in which we are engaged-that of our fundamental human rights-be moved both in time and location.
We propose that a demonstration be held annually on the last Saturday in June in New York City to commemorate the 1969 spontaneous demonstrations on Christopher Street and this demonstration be called CHRISTOPHER STREET LIBERATION DAY. No dress or age regulations shall be made for this demonstration.
We also propose that we contact Homophile organizations throughout the country and suggest that they hold parallel demonstrations on that day. We propose a nationwide show of support.
All attendees to the ERCHO meeting in Philadelphia voted for the march except for Mattachine Society of New York, which abstained. Members of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) attended the meeting and were seated as guests of Rodwell's group, Homophile Youth Movement in Neighborhoods (HYMN).
Meetings to organize the march began in early January at Rodwell's apartment in 350 Bleecker Street. At first there was difficulty getting some of the major New York City organizations like Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) to send representatives. Craig Rodwell and his partner Fred Sargeant, Ellen Broidy, Michael Brown, Marty Nixon, and Foster Gunnison of Mattachine made up the core group of the CSLD Umbrella Committee (CSLDUC). For initial funding, Gunnison served as treasurer and sought donations from the national homophile organizations and sponsors, while Sargeant solicited donations via the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop customer mailing list and Nixon worked to gain financial support from GLF in his position as treasurer for that organization. Other mainstays of the organizing committee were Judy Miller, Jack Waluska, Steve Gerrie and Brenda Howard of GLF. Believing that more people would turn out for the march on a Sunday, and so as to mark the date of the start of the Stonewall uprising, the CSLDUC scheduled the date for the first march for Sunday, June 28, 1970. With Dick Leitsch's replacement as president of Mattachine NY by "Michael Kotis" in April, 1970, opposition to the march by Mattachine ended.
Brenda Howard is known as the "Mother of Pride", for her work in coordinating the march. Howard also originated the idea for a week-long series of events around Pride Day which became the genesis of the annual LGBT Pride celebrations that are now held around the world every June. Additionally, Howard along with fellow LGBT Activists Robert A. Martin (aka Donny the Punk) and L. Craig Schoonmaker are credited with popularizing the word "Pride" to describe these festivities. As LGBT rights activist Tom Limoncelli put it, "The next time someone asks you why LGBT Pride marches exist or why [LGBT] Pride Month is June tell them 'A bisexual woman named Brenda Howard thought it should be.'"
Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970 marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots with an assembly on Christopher Street and the first Gay Pride march in U.S. history, covering the 51 blocks to Central Park. The march took less than half the scheduled time due to excitement, but also due to wariness about walking through the city with gay banners and signs. Although the parade permit was delivered only two hours before the start of the march, the marchers encountered little resistance from onlookers. The New York Times reported (on the front page) that the marchers took up the entire street for about 15 city blocks. Reporting by The Village Voice was positive, describing "the out-front resistance that grew out of the police raid on the Stonewall Inn one year ago".
One day earlier, on Saturday, 27 June 1970, Chicago Gay Liberation organized a march from Washington Square Park ("Bughouse Square") to the Water Tower at the intersection of Michigan and Chicago avenues, which was the route originally planned, and then many of the participants extemporaneously marched on to the Civic Center (now Richard J. Daley) Plaza. The date was chosen because the Stonewall events began on the last Saturday of June and because organizers wanted to reach the maximum number of Michigan Avenue shoppers. Subsequent Chicago parades have been held on the last Sunday of June, coinciding with the date of many similar parades elsewhere.
The next year, Gay Pride marches took place in Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee, London, Paris, West Berlin, and Stockholm. By 1972 the participating cities included Atlanta, Brighton, Buffalo, Detroit, Washington D.C., Miami, and Philadelphia, as well as San Francisco.
Frank Kameny soon realized the pivotal change brought by the Stonewall riots. An organizer of gay activism in the 1950s, he was used to persuasion, trying to convince heterosexuals that gay people were no different than they were. When he and other people marched in front of the White House, the State Department and Independence Hall only five years earlier, their objective was to look as if they could work for the U.S. government. Ten people marched with Kameny then, and they alerted no press to their intentions. Although he was stunned by the upheaval by participants in the Annual Reminder in 1969, he later observed, "By the time of Stonewall, we had fifty to sixty gay groups in the country. A year later there was at least fifteen hundred. By two years later, to the extent that a count could be made, it was twenty-five hundred."
Similar to Kameny's regret at his own reaction to the shift in attitudes after the riots, Randy Wicker came to describe his embarrassment as "one of the greatest mistakes of his life". The image of gays retaliating against police, after so many years of allowing such treatment to go unchallenged, "stirred an unexpected spirit among many homosexuals". Kay Lahusen, who photographed the marches in 1965, stated, "Up to 1969, this movement was generally called the homosexual or homophile movement.... Many new activists consider the Stonewall uprising the birth of the gay liberation movement. Certainly it was the birth of gay pride on a massive scale."
1980s and 1990s
In the 1980s there was a major cultural shift in the Stonewall Riot commemorations. The previous loosely organized, grassroots marches and parades were taken over by more organized and less radical elements of the gay community. The marches began dropping "Liberation" and "Freedom" from their names under pressure from more conservative members of the community, replacing them with the philosophy of "Gay Pride" (in the more liberal San Francisco, the name of the gay parade and celebration was not changed from Gay Freedom Day Parade to Gay Pride Day Parade until 1994). The Greek lambda symbol and the pink triangle which had been revolutionary symbols of the Gay Liberation Movement, which is headed by were tidied up and incorporated into the Gay Pride, or Pride, movement, providing some symbolic continuity with its more radical beginnings. The pink triangle was also the inspiration for the homomonument in Amsterdam, commemorating all gay men and lesbians who have been subjected to persecution because of their homosexuality.
LGBT Pride Month
The month of June was chosen for LGBT Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall riots, which occurred at the end of June 1969. As a result, many pride events are held during this month to recognize the impact LGBT people have had in the world. Brenda Howard is known as the "Mother of Pride", for her work in coordinating the first LGBT Pride march, and she also originated the idea for a week-long series of events around Pride Day which became the genesis of the annual LGBT Pride celebrations that are now held around the world every June. Additionally, Howard along with fellow LGBT rights activists Robert A. Martin (aka Donny the Punk) and L. Craig Schoonmaker are credited with popularizing the word "Pride" to describe these festivities. As LGBT rights activist Tom Limoncelli put it, "The next time someone asks you why LGBT Pride marches exist or why [LGBT] Pride Month is June tell them 'A bisexual woman named Brenda Howard thought it should be.'"
On several occasions, the President of the United States has officially declared a Pride Month. First, President Bill Clinton declared June "Gay & Lesbian Pride Month" on June 2, 2000. Then, in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, President Barack Obama declared June Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.
Google marked any LGBT-related search results in June 2012 with a rainbow colored pattern underneath search results.
From both outside and inside the LGBT community, there is criticism and protest against pride events. Bob Christie's documentary Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride evaluates gay pride events in different countries within the context of local opposition.
In a special queer issue of The Stranger in 1999, openly gay author, pundit, and journalist Dan Savage questioned the relevance of pride thirty years later, writing that pride was an effective antidote to shame imposed on LGBT people, but that pride is now making LGBT people dull and slow as a group, as well as being a constant reminder of shame. However, he also states that pride in some simpler forms are still useful to individuals struggling with shame. Savage writes that gay pride can also lead to disillusionment where an LGBT individual realises the reality that sexual orientation doesn't say much about a person's personality, after being led by the illusion that LGBT individuals are part of a co-supportive and inherently good group of people.
The growth and commercialization of Christopher Street Days, coupled with their de-politicalisation, has led to an alternative CSD in Berlin, the so-called "Kreuzberger CSD" or "Transgenialer" ("Transgenial"/Trans Ingenious") CSD. Political party members are not invited for speeches, nor can parties or companies sponsor floats. After the parade there is a festival with a stage for political speakers and entertainers. Groups discuss lesbian/transsexual/transgender/gay or queer perspectives on issues such as poverty and unemployment benefits (Hartz IV), gentrification, or "Fortress Europe."
In June 2010, American philosopher and theorist Judith Butler refused the Civil Courage Award (Zivilcouragepreis) of the Christopher Street Day Parade in Berlin, Germany at the award ceremony, arguing and lamenting in a speech that the parade had become too commercial, and was ignoring the problems of racism and the double discrimination facing homosexual or transsexual migrants. According to Butler, even the organizers themselves promote racism. The general manager of the CSD committee, Robert Kastl, countered Butler's allegations and pointed out that the organizers already awarded a counselling center for lesbians dealing with double discrimination in 2006. Regarding the allegations of commercialism Kastl explained further that the CSD organizers don't require small groups to pay a participation fee which starts at 50 € and goes up to 1500 €. He also distanced himself from all forms of racism and islamophobia.
A number of associations and social movements have been denouncing in recent years which, in its views, is a depletion of the claims of these demonstrations and the merchandization of the parade. In this respect, they defend, in countries like Spain, USA or Canada, a Critical Pride celebration to have a political meaning again. Gay Shame, a radical movement within the LGBT community, opposes the assimilation of LGBT people into mainstream, heteronormative society, the commodification of non-heterosexual identity and culture, and in particular the (over) commercialization of pride events.
"Straight Pride" analogy
"Straight Pride" and "Heterosexual Pride" are analogies and slogans that oppose heterosexuality to homosexuality by copying the phrase "Gay Pride". Originating from the Culture Wars in the United States, "Straight Pride" is a form of conservative backlash as there is no straight or heterosexual civil rights movement. While criticism from inside and outside the LGBT community abounds, the "Straight Pride" incidents have, however, gained some media attention especially when they involve government and public institutions.
Initiatives and criticism by governments and political leaders
In a 2008 interview for the biography book La Reina muy cerca (The Queen Up Close) by Spanish journalist and writer Pilar Urbano, Queen Sofía of Spain sparked off controversy by voicing her disapproval of LGBT pride in addition to overstepping her official duties as a member of the Royal Family by censuring the Spanish Law on Marriage in how it names equal same-sex unions “matrimonio” (marriage). Albeit without using the slogan "Straight Pride", Queen Sofía was directly quoted as saying that if heterosexuals were to take the streets as the LGBT community does for Gay Pride parades, that the former collective would bring Madrid to a standstill.
Even though the Royal Household of Spain approved publication of the interview and Pilar Rubio offered to share the interview recording, both Queen Sofía and the Royal Household have refuted the comments in question.
In August 2011, Sao Paulo city alderman Carlos Apolinário of the right-wing Democrats Party sponsored a bill to organize and sponsor "Heterosexual Pride Day" on the third Sunday of December. The bill was passed by the city council, and awaits the signature of mayor Gilberto Kassab. Apolinário, an Evangelical Protestant, stated that the intent of the parade was a "struggle...against excesses and privileges". Members of Grupo Gay da Bahia and the Workers' Party criticized the bill as enhancing "the possibility of discrimination and prejudice". However, no events have ever been held.
A Brazilian photographer was arrested after refusing to delete photos of police attacking two young people participating in a gay pride parade on Oct. 16, 2011 in the city of Itabuna, Bahia, reported the newspaper Correio 24 horas.
According to the website Notícias de Ipiau, Ederivaldo Benedito, known as Bené, said four police officers tried to convince him to delete the photos soon after they realized they were being photographed. When he refused, they ordered him to turn over the camera. When the photographer refused again, the police charged him with contempt and held him in jail for over 21 hours until he gave a statement.
According to Chief Marlon Macedo, the police alleged that the photographer was interfering with their work, did not have identification, and became aggressive when he was asked to move. Bené denied the allegations, saying the police were belligerent and that the scene was witnessed by "over 300 people," reported Agência Estado.
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