Learn about history of LGBTQ movement during Pride Month

  • Published
  • By Aimee Malone
  • Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center
June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month, recognizing the impact that LGBTQ people have had throughout history and drawing attention to the ongoing struggles to achieve equal justice and equal opportunity both at home and abroad.
Pride Month is celebrated in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising or Stonewall Riots, which is seen as a tipping point for the LGBTQ rights movement in the United States.
In the 1960s, many LGBTQ people frequented bars that were run by organized crime due to the limited legal options, according to the website for the Stonewall National Monument in New York City.  These bars were frequently raided, and while customers were usually released, they were also photographed, outed, and humiliated before release.
On June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. When bar employees and patrons were arrested, neighborhood members and other patrons began to protest, chanting and throwing objects at the police. The demonstrations turned into riots engulfing much of the surrounding neighborhood for six days. The riots inspired LGTBQ people throughout the country to organize and begin pressing for equal rights.
Stonewall National Monument is located in Christopher Park, which is across from Stonewall Inn and was also a site of the demonstrations. It was established as a national park and put under federal protection in June 2016. Stonewall Inn has been designated a National Historic Landmark since 2000.
Pride events are held in June throughout the world, including parades, educational and outreach workshops, and concerts. The first pride parade was held June 28, 1970, on the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. Memorials are also conducted, particularly for those who were lost to hate crimes or AIDS.
June also provides an opportunity to learn more about notable LGBTQ individuals. Entertainer Josephine Baker, who identified as bisexual, served as a spy for the French during World War II and later advocated for desegregation in the United States by refusing to perform at segregated venues and speaking at the 1963 March on Washington.
Bayard Rustin was a friend and adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. but was forced to work from the shadows because he was openly gay. He remained a civil-rights and gay-rights activist and worked to bring the AIDS crisis to the NAACP’s attention.
Sally Ride, the first female U.S. astronaut, was married to fellow astronaut Steven Hawley during her time at NASA but spent 27 years with her childhood friend and female partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy. While she didn’t publicly come out during her lifetime, her sister said after her death that it was because she was a private person; her close friends and family knew.
The Library of Congress holds collections of notable LGBTQ individuals, such as composer and songwriter Cole Porter, gay-rights activist Frank Kameny, and author Truman Capote. It also compiles the LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive, which collects and preserves online content documenting LGBTQ history and culture.