Pride Month 2021

November 3, 2022
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The origins of Pride and the people behind the celebrations

Marketing and Communications Executive, Jonathan Maley takes a closer look at the origins of the celebration, the people that have inspired its success and how the global phenomenon came to be.

What is Pride?

Every June the global LGBTQ+ community comes together to celebrate Pride Month in a colourful, dedicated display of inclusivity. These celebrations typically include community parades and festivals, even ones on wheels, not just here in the UK but throughout the world. Of course, there are Pride events throughout the year, but Pride Month is said to be in June to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which catalysed the movement for LGBTQ+ rights.

As for the infamous acronym, LGBTQ+ refers to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Questioning/Queer, with the plus sign signifying a desire to be inclusive.

Has Covid-19 had an impact on how we celebrate Pride?

Because of Covid-19, 2020 tested Pride’s flexibility in terms of making a positive statement away from congregating groups of people. In previous years, Pride had become one of the stand-out campaigns in the global party and inclusiveness calendar.

Due to the demands of social distancing, however, event organisers had to be creative in their approach and rely on technology to spread the word. Thankfully, with the vaccine rollout going to plan here in the UK, celebrating Pride in 2021 brings renewed optimism and opportunity to socialise once again safely.

Why is Pride celebrated?

Pride is a celebration of equality and throughout the world the word Pride carries a universal meaning of visual inclusiveness. For millions, celebrating Pride is joining others in a shared fight for equality; a fight that is sewn into the very fabric of Pride’s vibrant tapestry.

Furthermore, those celebrating pride do so to stand in union with anyone who has suffered simply for their sexuality or gender.

Who are Pride’s prominent figures and why?

Stormé DeLarverie

In the wake of the infamous Stonewall Uprising, sparked in the early hours of 28 June 1969, many believe the true spirit of Pride was born. The Stonewall Inn was a gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York, situated in the city’s artisan district and was subject to a police raid. As the early hours continued a crowd grew and the mood changed.

During the raid, police attempted to arrest bouncer, Stormé DeLarverie. To their astonishment she fought back. DeLarverie resisted arrest many times and even when struck on the head by a baton she did not give in.  In the aftermath of the uprising, a pro-gay publication was launched as well as support groups and organisations. Pride month, for many, is the legacy of Stonewall, and there is a UK charity named after the uprising that was founded in 1989.

Marsha P Johnson

Marsha P Johnson was born Malcolm Michaels Jr on 24 August 1945 in New Jersey.

Before acclaimed Pride fandom, Johnson knew they were different, but could not express it as a youth. After graduating from high school Malcolm packed a bag and headed for New York City, where Marsha was born.

Having found a home amongst the LGBTQ+ community, they were able to be gender non-conforming; sometimes presenting as Malcolm Michaels, but predominantly known for the drag queen persona Marsha P Johnson.

When a judge asked what the P stood for, he was famously told it stood for “pay it no mind.”

Johnson’s style of drag was bright, bold, and flowing and they were unmissable in a crowd.

Performance wise, Johnson worked with grassroots groups and veered towards political and comedic.

Johnson was also one of the first drag queens to drink in the Stonewall Inn, previously a men only gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village referenced above.

It is said that Johnson threw the first brick in the uprising. On the second night of the uprising at Stonewall, Johnson scaled a lamppost to drop a heavy bag on a police car and shatter the windshield.


Photo by Cecilie Johnsen on Unsplash

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