Monday, June 28, 2010

The First Gay Pride Parade Occured 40 Years Ago Today

A photograph from the first gay pride parade in 1970

June 28, 1970 marked the first anniversary of The Stonewall Riots in New York, the turning point for Gay Rights. As incredible as it seems to many of us today, before then,  it was illegal for openly LGBT people to congregate in public places in most of the United States and many other countries.

The first gay rights parade commemorating the Stonewall riots was held in New York on June 28, 1970 starting on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village.  Over 15,000 people turned out. Never before had that many LGBT individuals turned out for a public event. The Parade extended 52 blocks in Manhattan. As someone famously said, the closet door was ripped open that day and never came back on. This is an actual filmage from that first parade.

Anyone from 1970 looking forward 40 years in the future would be amazed at the progress for gay rights made in most countries of the world except, of course, fundamentalist Muslim countries where being gay is considered a capital offense. We have a long way to go but should celebrate today as the first time in history this many LGBT people were willing to be identified as such in public.

My real life Mom, who grew up in Manhattan and who never ceases to amaze me, told me that she would to gay bars in the village with her friends in the early 1960's. The one thing that they had to see before they let her in was her purse, to make sure she did not have a camera concealed. Being photographed in one of these places meant that your life could be destroyed through blackmail.  I could not even imagine living in world like this.

Correction:  the first gay pride parade occured one day earlier in Chicago on June 27, 2010.  It was not as large or well organzied, but still, the Windy City beats New York.

1 comment:

  1. Benjamin GlendaleJune 28, 2010 at 4:17 AM

    The film clip Eddi has included is from a documentary "After Stonewall", released in 1999. There is also a predecessor film, "Before Stonewall", released in 1984. The two films give an excellent outline of the history of the LGBT movement in the USA throughout the 20th century. Comprised of interviews and film clips, they indicate what earlier generations experienced and endured for the sake of wanting to be free to be the person they are. It is thanks to people like them that many of us are indeed fortunate to live our lives more freely, to a great extent anyway.


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