June is PRIDE Month – History

Like all international PRIDE events, the month of June celebrates the LGBTQ+ community and aims to promote equality and raise awareness of challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals across the world. In the U.S., PRIDE month is celebrated in June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of June 1969 – a prominent turning point in LGBTQ history which paved the way for the gay rights movement across the world.

The early gay rights movement:

1924: Henry Gerber, a German immigrant, founded in Chicago the Society for Human Rights, the first documented gay rights organization in the U.S.

1928: English poet and author Radclyffe Hall stirred up controversy when she published her lesbian-themed novel, The Well of Loneliness.

1948: Alfred Kinsey published his book Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.

1950: Seeking to improve the lives of gay men through discussion groups and related activities, Harry Hay founded the Mattachine Foundation, one of the nation’s first gay rights groups.

1952: Dale Jennings’ organization ONE formed, which welcomed women and published ONE, the country’s first pro-gay magazine.

1958: One, Inc. won a lawsuit against the U.S. Post Office, which in 1954 declared the magazine “obscene” and refused to deliver it.

1961: Illinois became the first state to do away with its anti-sodomy laws, effectively decriminalizing homosexuality.

1961: A local TV station in California aired the first documentary about homosexuality, called The Rejected.

1965: Dr. John Oliver, in his book Sexual Hygiene and Pathology, coined the term “transgender” to describe someone who was born in the body of the incorrect sex.

1966: Member of the Mattachine Society in New York City staged a “sip-in” – a twist on the “sit-in” protests of the 1960s – in which they visited taverns, declared themselves gay, and waited to be turned away to they could sue. They were denied service at the Greenwich Village tavern Julius, resulting in much publicity and the quick reversal of the anti-gay liquor laws.

1969: The Stonewall Riots. This clandestine gay club was raided by police in the early hours of June 28, 1969 and resulted into a full-blown riot with subsequent protests that lasted for 5 more days.

1970: At the one-year anniversary of the stonewall Riots, New York City community members marched through local streets in commemoration of the event. Named the Christopher Street Liberation Day, the march is now considered the country’s first gay pride parade.

The gay rights movement in the US has seen huge progress in the last century, and especially the last two decades. Laws prohibiting homosexual activity have been struck down; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals can now serve openly in the military. And same-sex couples can now legally get married and adopt children in all 50 states. But it has been a long and bumpy road for gay rights proponents, who are still advocating for employment, housing and transgender rights.