By Faith Garrett
June is Pride month, a time of awareness and advocacy for the LBGT+ community. Some people come for the party, shout “Love is love!,” then move on with their lives without ever having raised any awareness or effected any change.
It can be all too easy for people – especially allies – to ignore the real issues plaguing the LGBT+ community when Pride is a celebration.
Pride did not start this way. The first Pride event in the United States was a riot.
Picture this: Greenwich Village, late June, 1969. It’s illegal to be gay in New York, so the gay, lesbian, transgender, and drag queen population is thriving behind the scenes in hidden and dark places. One such place was the Stonewall Inn.
Stonewall, like many other gay bars and clubs, was raided by police on a regular basis. Police claimed to raid the bars because their owners didn’t have liquor licenses.
Every gay man, lesbian, trans person, and drag queen harassed and accosted by police for their very existence, knew the truth.
On the fateful night of June 28, 1969, the patrons of the bar decided they had had enough. First-hand accounts of what happened differ, but it is certain is that when the police came to raid the Stonewall Inn that night, the patrons fought back.
The riots began when someone threw a brick at the police, and the rest is history.
The Stonewall Riots were led by trans women of color, just like many other LGBT+ movements and organizations.
Emerging from the chaos of the resistance was the modern gay and transgender rights movement. It is widely recognized that the Stonewall Riots were the beginning of Pride.
From the ashes of the Stonewall Riots rose GLF (Gay liberation Front), as well as STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), a collective that provided housing to queer youth and sex workers.
Members of GLF organized the first ever gay pride march, called Christopher Street Liberation Day, exactly one year after the riots occurred.
The missions of both GLF and STAR live on today through our modern LGBT+ rights movements, including LUHS’s wonderful GLOW Club.
Don’t get it twisted, though: The work begun by the pioneers at Stonewall is not finished.
Lamoille is lucky to have GLOW and kind, accepting staff. LUHS possesses an accepting environment in which students are welcome to be themselves.
Other schools in the US, however, are not so fortunate. Many schools maintain hostile environments that foster hate rather and acceptance, including my new school in Pennsylvania.
My current school has no QSA or affinity groups for marginalized peoples. Teachers do not show their support for the LGBT+ community in any way, and hateful speech is tolerated and swept under the rug by the school administration.
This proves that there is still work to be done.
The first Pride was a riot. Maintain that energy of resistance against the hostile mold of heteronormativity that prevents so many of us from being our authentic selves.
Live your best life in any and every way you can. Simply existing as a marginalized person is an act of resistance.
When you celebrate Pride this month, remember: it started at Stonewall.