By Terry Livingston
Gay Pride, LGBTQ Pride, or simply Pride Month, is celebrated every June to commemorate the Manhattan riots known as the Stonewall Uprising.
In 1969 alcoholic beverage permits were not issued to establishments that served gay customers. It was illegal for two people of the same sex to dance together. It was even illegal to wear clothing designed for the opposite sex. In short, society thought we should be ashamed of ourselves.
Then in the early morning hours of the last Saturday in June 1969, the New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village bar that was a haven for the city’s gay, lesbian and transgender community.
Fed up with the constant police harassment, angry patrons and neighborhood residents fought back. Within minutes, a full-blown riot began, involving hundreds of people. The Stonewall riots became the tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. Instead of feeling shameful, we felt PRIDE. And for this reason, June was declared LGBTQ Pride Month.
In recent years, we have even more reasons to celebrate during June. On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its judgment declaring the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional in the case United States v. Edith Windsor.
Two years later, also on June 26, (2015) in the case of Jim Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court struck down all state bans on same-sex marriage, ruling that marriage is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause.
And just this week (June 15), the Supreme Court further affirmed that LGBTQ rights are human rights in three cases before them on whether to take away existing employment protections for LGBTQ Americans. Two cases are on sexual orientation and one case is on gender identity and expression. The effect could expand beyond workplace discrimination (Title VII) and ripple to Education and Fair Housing. The cases are:
- Altitude Express v. Zarda
- Bostock v. Clayton County, GA
- R.G. & G. R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC and Aimee Stephens
Most Pride celebrations across the country are taking on a new and very different feel this year because of COVID-19. Most events for this month are cancelled, but many will be on – online that is. If interested, you can search online for 2020 Virtual Pride Guide for details on when and how to tune in.
Even though there won’t be as many Pride celebrations, maybe this is the year for folks to work differently to make changes happen. Sure, a celebration is fun, but it takes more than festivals and parades to make real change.
Get to know your local government officials by attending local meetings. Then take it a step further by reaching out to your state and federal lawmakers. Make suggestions for additional changes that are important to you, whether it is adoption, aging LGBTQ senior rights, religious exemptions or any of the many other areas that need improvement. And most importantly, get to know the candidates for office and vote. And speaking of candidates, consider being a candidate.
Finally, do you know the meaning behind the colors in the Pride Flag?
Red = Life
Orange = Healing
Yellow = Sunlight
Green = Nature
Blue = Harmony
Violet = Spirit
Happy PRIDE Month!
Terry Livingston and his husband, Steve Gamble, are founding members of Grand Strand Pride, an organization that sponsored many successful events in its 13 years of “advancing acceptance of the Grand Strand LGBTQ community through increased visibility.” Unfortunately, the organization recently put its activities on hold due to a lack of community support, a fate that many LGBTQ groups faced in 2019 because of changing attitudes in this country.