Prides – we’ve come a long way, baby!
By Ali Mislowsky Pride season in Virginia starts this week! Even with the Supreme Court blocking marriages from starting in Virginia, we still have a lot of celebrating to do. Putting it all in perspective, we are still closer to marriage than ever before. Over the next month and a half at Prides throughout the Commonwealth, we will joyously observe Virginia’s progress towards equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and families. When we take a look back over the decades, Virginia, the United States, and countries around the world have come a long way in not only accepting, but celebrating, diversity. [caption id="attachment_6177" align="alignright" width="250"] Summer of 1970 in New York[/caption] 44 years ago, the first pride parade was held in New York City. It was the summer of 1970, and the setting was bleak. The march, called Christopher Street Liberation Day, was scheduled one year after the Stonewall riots on the last Saturday of June of 1969. The Stonewall riots are the unofficial, but widely regarded, start of the gay pride movement. They were the culmination of anger and frustration with the actions police had taken towards LGBT people. After the Stonewall riots, the first gay pride march was held within a year. Things started progressing quickly: within two years, every major city had gay rights groups. The participants of the first pride parade marched in spite of fear and threats; it was a risk to be chanting “Gay is good, gay is proud” through the streets. But that was the purpose of the first pride march: to bring awareness to the denial of gay and human rights in 1970. The first day of pride was a commemoration; because of that, at Prides today, we commemorate our past, celebrate our progress, and champion our pride. [caption id="attachment_6179" align="alignright" width="250"] Pride in Sao Paulo, Brazil[/caption] Since June 1970, Pride events have spread across the world. The largest parade, in São Paulo, has millions of attendees. Prides have parades and give scholarships; they allow businesses and organizations to identify as allies; they’re a colorful, loud reminder that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender are ALL “good and proud”; they serve as not only a safe space, but a celebratory space - with hundreds and sometimes thousands of supporters. This year, we have a lot to be proud of. Two courts have ruled in favor of statewide marriage equality. Virginians support the freedom to marry now more than ever. Our elected officials are listening to us and working on our behalf. But Virginia still has work to do. This year, Equality Virginia is focusing on workplace non-discrimination and second-parent adoption in pursuit of full equality of all Virginians and their families. We’ll be at Prides across Virginia this season for 44 days- a coincidental nod to the first pride march, 44 years ago. We hope to see you there, celebrating the many reasons we are proud to be LGBT Virginians and allies. Learn more about Equality Virginia's work by signing up to receive our emails! Another great way to stay in touch is by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter.