The month of June is Pride Month, this week Ira Riklis shares historical insight into why and how this celebration came to be in June. As some people take part in the celebrations, events and other festivities, some other individuals likely know little about Pride Month and its history.
Discover the history of the month and decisions leading to the designation of June as Pride Month.
What Is Pride Month?
Gay Pride is a movement throughout the world that the National Women’s History Project explains as an assertion encouraging gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual individuals to be proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The movement also works towards equal rights and benefits for members of the LGBTQ community.
Although some communities marked a day or week to celebrate “Gay Pride,” Bill Clinton set aside an entire month as Pride Month.
Pride Month, held throughout the month of June, is a recent commemoration, started by then-President Bill Clinton. The East Village Magazine notes that the month is also referred to as National LGBTQ History Month.
June Becomes The Official LGBTQ Month
President Bill Clinton officially designated the month of June as “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month,” with Proclamation 7316. Prior to that time, some communities celebrated Gay Pride Day on the last Sunday of June. The Library of Congress explains that the day was not set in stone and was, therefore, a flexible date. Additionally, before Bill Clinton officially designated the month of June as Pride Month, October typically marked Pride Month. However, not all states or communities participated.
With the official declaration that made June the official Pride Month, the celebration went further than simply celebrating a time for LGBTQ individuals to show pride for their sexual orientation and gender identity. The Library of Congress explains that the month-long celebration demonstrates how Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans have played a part in strengthening our country, by using their talent and creativity to help create awareness and goodwill.
Why Did President Clinton Select June?
President Bill Clinton selected June as the official Pride Month to remember events that took place in 1969. The Stonewall Riots refer to events that unfolded at the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan.
Located in Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn was considered a relatively safe gathering place for members of the LGBTQ community, in spite of the fact that local police frequently raided the premises, likely harassing patrons and employees of the Stonewall Inn.
Elite Daily explains that on June 28, 1969, the members of the LGBTQ were not going to take the harassment any longer and decided to fight back against the police officers. What unfolded was a resistance on the part of patrons in the packed bar that evening. Patrons fought back and the fighting to protest the discrimination and harassment against LGBTQ individuals spilled outside the doors of Stonewall Inn. Patrons and their supporters took to the streets in what is now referred to as the Stonewall Riots. Over the course of two days, the resistance resulted in multiple arrests and several people being hospitalized.
The selection of June as Pride Month honors the events that took place during the Stonewall Riots, often considered the first major resistance against discrimination and harassment aimed at members of the LGBTQ community.
LGBTQ Month Today
Since Bill Clinton left office, Pride Month continues to celebrate the accomplishments of LGBTQ individuals and their contributions to communities and the country, in spite of some official pushback.
President George Bush did not acknowledge Pride Month during either of his terms as President of the United States. As of June 2, 2017, Donald Trump has not yet acknowledged Pride Month. This is in contrast to President Barack Obama acknowledging the Month throughout his two terms.