Pride Month is celebrated every June as a tribute to those who were involved in the Stonewall Riots in New York 1969. At the time of the riots homosexual acts were still deemed illegal in every state in America, except Illinois. Bars and restaurants could be shut down for employing or serving gay people, although there were gay bars/clubs in New York these were mostly run by the Mafia who would pay corrupt police officers to look the other way. They would also blackmail and extort wealthy gay patrons and threaten to “out” them if they did not cooperate.
Police raids were common on bars that were thought to be catering for gay people but on this particular night, June 28th 1969, the patrons and employees fought back. This sparked the start of the new era for the LGBTQ community!
The following year on June 28th 1970 Brenda Howard, a bisexual activist also known as the 'Mother of Pride’ organised the first gay pride parade to set off from outside the Stonewall venue. The traditions continue still today as an opportunity to reflect on the enormous progress made towards equality and to also remind the world that there is still a lot of change and progression to be made!
To take a look at some more details of the stonewall riots please visit this link https://www.history.com/news/stonewall-riots-timeline.
The globally recognised rainbow flag followed a few years later at a Pride march in 1978 in San Francisco. Gilbert Baker, who was an openly gay man and drag queen wanted to design an all-inclusive symbol for the community to use during the parade. Baker decided the symbol should be a flag as he believed that a flag was one of the powerful symbols of pride.
The original flag was 8 coloured stripes, each colour being a symbol as shown above, but as demand for the flag grew there were difficulties with the availability of the hot pink so it was removed and then later on the turquoise stripe was also dropped to make the stripes an even number.
What can you expect from Pride?
Pride month is for everyone not just for the LGBTQ+ community to embrace who they are
and to let the world know but also for other communities/people to show their support and encouragement for the cause! There are many events organised over the month including; rallies, parades, concerts and parties.
The community goes all out at these events with amazing, beautiful and elaborate costumes, make up, feathers and glitter – of course!
Memorials are also held for members of the community who have lost their lives to hate crimes and HIV/AIDS. Campaigns and rallies aim to promote the history and wellbeing of the LGBT+ community and teach people all about it the past, present and future!
Unfortunately, due to the current pandemic a lot of Pride events in 2020 and now in 2021 are being cancelled for safety reasons against the spread of Covid-19. Many events will now be hosted over Zoom or social media platforms to make sure people are still feeling connected and can celebrate! Even though you may not be able to attend an event with thousands of people as usual it is important to remember the true message and spirit of the month.
Pride is really about people coming together in love to show how far gay rights have come even if there is a long way to go! It calls for people to remember how damaging homophobia was and still can be, it’s about teaching tolerance and educating people on the subject, bringing history into the story to show how important it is to move forward with equality.
The suggestion of calling the movement “Pride” alone came from L. Craig Schoonmaker in 2015. He said
“A lot of people were repressed, they were conflicted internally, and didn’t know how to come out and be proud. That’s how the movement was most useful, because they thought – Maybe I should be proud!”
Why must Pride continue?
In data from June 2020 there were still 49 countries which punish homosexual acts with prison sentences and 11 countries that still use the death penalty against the LGBT+ community.
Thankfully in the UK we are much further ahead towards full legal equality with decriminalisation of homosexuality in the late 1960s. It does seem that the UK still have a long way to go on social reform as in the same data it showed that hate crimes/incidents were on the increase, although this could be more people are reporting incidents and the police are taking more notice of these reports. Stonewall estimated that 80% of hate crimes against the LGBT+ communities go unreported still. As it stands the biggest increase in hate crime was towards the transgender community.
Homophobia - A dislike of or prejudice against gay people.
Transphobia - A dislike of or prejudice against transsexual or transgender people.
There were 105,090 hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales in 2019/2020 (excluding greater Manchester police) which is an increase of 8% compared to the previous year. Sexual orientation hate crimes increased by 19% to 15835 and Transgender identity hate crimes increased by 16% to 2540. Although these types of attacks have increased from the previous year the percentage of increase is smaller than recent years.
To take a look at the full government hate crime report please click this link https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/hate-crime-england-and-wales-2019-to-2020.
Western homophobia peaked in the 1980s with the AIDS pandemic. The disease brought with it greater public awareness that homosexuals existed in every social institution. AIDS spread rapidly through communities and the nature of the disease stigmatised homosexual men more.
At the beginning of the 21st century AIDS was recognised as a problem for heterosexuals as much as it was for homosexuals and anti-gay laws were stripped from most western countries. In the UK, Europe and most of North America it was declared that sexual minorities would receive most of the same rights as heterosexuals including in some area’s marriage.
Research in the early 21st century found that in western Europe and North America young people had begun to rapidly reject homophobia which meant that it was homophobia that began to be a stigma not being homosexual!
Unfortunately, not every country/place is moving at the same pace and millions of people still live in places that outlaw same-sex relationships and can prosecute people for being gay. In Russia for example there is a law banning the promotion of “non-traditional” sexuality to anyone under the age of 18 which was introduced recently!
India is another example as they recently reinstated a 153-year-old law criminalising gay sex according to section 377 a same-sex relationship is an “unnatural offence” and will now be punishable by a 10 year jail term, with Nigeria outlawing gay marriage and gay groups.
This information gives us plenty of reason as to why Pride is still so important! The message really does need to be put across that discrimination based on sexual orientation should be a thing of the past!
The latest figures from the office of national statistics were published in March 2020 and the UK population aged 16 years and older identifying as heterosexual has decreased from 95.3% in 2014 to 94.6% in 2018.
Only 46% of the LGBT+ community are being open about their sexual orientation with their family and only 43% of the community who are employed having revealed their sexuality at work.
Although we are heading in the right direction and there are many support networks
designed to help the LGBT+ community studies have found that they are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, self-harm and other mental health issues.
According to Mind around 11% of people in England alone experience depression and anxiety but the LGBT+ figures are a lot higher!
22% of gay and bisexual men experience moderate – severe depression (2012)
79% of lesbian or bisexual women felt depressed (2012)
Over 80% of transgender people experience depression (2012)
To see the full story and report please use this link https://www.lgbthero.org.uk/Pages/Category/general-wellbeing?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI-dfu99T28AIVcBkGAB34igfNEAAYAyAAEgL7RvD_BwE
People that identify as LGBT+ are nearly 3 times more likely to experience mental health conditions! One of the main reasons thought to be behind the community experiencing higher rates in mental health conditions is because they are exposed to more trauma and adverse life events, due to stigma, bias and discrimination which can trigger or develop mental health issues.
In the UK 1 in 6 people roughly 17% who identify as LGBT+ who went to cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs experienced some form of discrimination or bias based on their sexual orientation or identity. With 1 in 10 about 10% experienced hate online.
How can I support the community if I am not part of it?
Educate yourself. Learn about the history, culture and activism. Making an effort to understand the community is so important. A big part of the community is pronouns - Learn them. There is plenty of information online about pronouns and the meanings behind them but if you have questions ask... make sure to be polite and explain that you would like to understand.
No stereotypes. Every person on the planet is different and has unique things about them, just because a person identifies a certain way or has a certain sexual orientation it does not mean they must act a certain way to fit into stereotypical category often shown on tv or in films. Remove stereotypes from your thoughts and get to know the person.
Speak up. If you witness any form of discrimination towards the community whether it be online or in person take a stand. Correct a bias term if you hear one. Openly speak out against discrimination and encourage people to educate themselves!
Donate. There are many charities and causes that could really use your help in support of the LGBT+ community! If you cant donate fundraise! There are many events already organised to fundraise for the community the you can get involved in.
Listen. The best support you can offer is a listening ear and a shoulder if needed! Although you may not understand what the person is facing allowing them to confide in you shows them that you support them and their feelings are valid.
Wellbeing for the LGBT+ community specifically needs to improve and there are many charities that are looking to help that happen! I have included some links to support below!