The Stonewall Riots and the history of Pride

LGBT+ History Month

Throughout February, we’re marking LGBT History Month by publishing Need to Know articles which celebrate diversity and encourage people to reflect on the progress which has been made towards equality.

This week, Dan Hynes, regional directory of services lead, reflects on the history of the Pride movement.

“This week, we’d like to reflect on the history of Pride. The event has its roots in New York on 28 June 1969, and was born after police raided the Mafia-owned Stonewall Inn at 1.20am. As an underground gay bar, the Inn was regularly raided by police but usually the Mafia was tipped off in advance. On this occasion, the tip off never happened.

“During the raid, everyone was asked to produce identification or face arrest. Female officers took anyone who was dressed as a woman to the toilets to confirm their sex, and would arrest them if they were found to be male. On this particular night, people began to refuse and the police decided to take everyone to the station. Back up was called and crowds began to build outside, with some onlookers starting to shout and throw beer bottles. Word quickly got round that some of those inside the Inn had been beaten by the police and at this point, the riot started.

“A year later, the Stonewall riots were marked by the first Pride events in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. The following year, more marches happened in cities such as London, while gay rights groups were also set up. As time went on, more and more Pride events began, and quickly became regular annual fixtures. Last year marked 50 years since Stonewall, and London celebrated with the largest Pride event in its history and a parade which lasted for several hours.

“This is just a short overview of what happened on that night in 1969. I’d encourage you to read up more about the events and the conditions which were experienced at the time. Personally, it has taught me a lot about the history of Pride.

“I’ve been to a number of Pride celebrations and have been amazed by the turnout and support shown, which has included churches opening up to welcome all in and provide refreshments. It's always very humbling to see different professions and employers showing their support and organising floats for the parade. I’ve always felt Pride to a safe place and a celebration of inclusion and diversity.”

Published 19th February 2020

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