All visuals for Pride always seem to display rainbows, bright colors, and a hot, colorful summer party. What’s not to love? June provides a never-ending sun that shines over smiling faces in the spirit of celebration of love, freedom of self expression, and freedom of choice.
And while identities have been reclaimed, it is important not to lose sight of why Pride exists and how it all came about.
Gay rights and the gay rights movements, while widespread today, were not as prolific in the early 1900s. Several instances throughout history point to gay rights activism, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that the gay rights movement started to really make headway as a main topic of conversation.
For as long as history is recorded, those who belonged to the LGBT community constantly lived as second class citizens, subject to harassment and oppression. In New York, it was illegal to participate in same-sex relations and it was criminalized to wear less than three gender-appropriate articles of clothing.
And so, the LGBT community would gather around gay bars and clubs, which would have cunning ways of masking their customer’s true identity when raided – these disguises being strategically employed upon receiving tips before a raid was planned to occur. And while many bars were run by the Mafia, who took advantage of the situation by blackmailing patrons and not properly keeping up the standards of a bar for their customers, they still became a place of refuge for those in the LGBT community to freely express themselves without fear.
One such bar in Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn, was raided on the morning of June 28, 1969. Uncharacteristically, however, the residents of Stonewall began to fight back upon witnessing how police were manhandling people simply based on their sexual preference.
Onlookers began joining in, in an attempt to stop the police and within a short period of time, a full-blown riot broke that lasted for five days.
While the Stonewall Riots didn’t start the gay rights movement, each year, it’s commemoration is recognized via what we know today as “Pride”, which occurs during the same month as the riots did in 1969 and reclaims an identity that was for so long hidden in small places.
As we celebrate Pride this year on IMVU, we remember this historic moment and stand behind those who have had the courage to live authentically today, and everyday on IMVU.