The History of Pride Month
Here in the US, there is a history of treating minority groups neither fairly nor equally. They have been denied access to public places, denied protection under certain laws, mistreated, and even killed out of misunderstanding and hate. The LGBTQ+ community is a case in point. We call June ‘Pride Month,’ a time to raise greater awareness of the persecution of our LBGTQ+ siblings in God’s family. Persons who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer (LGBTQ+) continue to stand up for their rights, as do their allies.
Did you know? In 1924, Henry Gerber, a German immigrant, founded the Society for Human Rights, based out of Chicago and the first documented gay rights organization in the United States. During his U.S. Army service in World War I, Gerber was inspired to create his own organization, based on the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, which was a “homosexual emancipation” group in Germany. Gerber believed human rights include rights and dignity of all people, a concept enshrined in our own country’s Constitution.
June 28, 1969, marked the beginning of the Stonewall Uprising, a series of clashes between the police and the LGBTQ+ protesters that stretched over six days. Early in the morning, armed with a warrant, the police of New York City arrived at The Stonewall Inn, the most popular bar for LGBTQ+ persons in that time, intending to arrest patrons and employees for breaking discriminatory laws which did not allow LGBTQ+ persons to purchase alcohol, share romantic relationships, or wear fewer than three gender-conforming articles of clothing. By evening on that day, word had spread and thousands of people joined in protesting the police action against the LGBTQ+ community.
(LGBTQ+) Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in the month of June, to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising. The Stonewall Uprising was a turning point for the movement to establish equal rights for our LGBTQ+ siblings in the United States. The first Pride march occurred on the one-year anniversary of that uprising and the march continues. There is still work to be done on behalf of oppressed minority groups as we hear of hate crimes almost daily.
The celebration of Pride is more than just a parade and a party. It has meaning, it has history, and it has been a wonderful way for the LGBTQ+ community to express who they are - to simply be themselves. The LGBTQ+ community and their allies gather to create a family of like-minded people in a safe environment. Family is important on this life journey.
It is important that we continue to learn about our diverse siblings in God’s family and to remember that God created us all. In Luke 4:18, Jesus named his calling to include..."to let the oppressed go free." How is God still speaking to you, teaching you, and indeed calling you in this time?