Gay pride parades are now a festive annual tradition we all look forward to. Seeing the growth of pride parades across the country has been uplifting and astonishing, but how many of us know how these parades actually originated?
The Stonewall riots that took place in New York were really the catalyst that began the LGBT civil rights movement. And in 1970, the first parade was born out of a desire to commemorate Stonewall’s one year anniversary. That is when LGBT advocates organized and put together the “Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day” parade.
That day was colored by fear and trepidation for all involved. No one knew how a group of openly gay marchers would be received by the community, and they didn’t know if they would even make it the entire planned route. They started at Greenwich Village with signs saying “Say it clear, say it loud. Gay is good, gay is proud,” and small hope that they would make it all the way to Central Park.
However, once the small parade started, more and more participants joined them, until soon it was hundreds and then thousands of supporters. The first “Christopher Street” was nothing short of a surprising success!
And the wonderful reception the New York parade received inspired more and more parades across the country and soon, the rest of the world. By 1985, most of the big cities in America had organized gay pride parades in full force.
In present day, pride parades have become almost ubiquitous in some countries; nearly every major city in the U.S. has one, as do most European and Asian countries. Even a few cities in Africa and Latin America have some variation of a parade celebrating LGBT. And while it is, unfortunately, true that some cities are just not ready to celebrate LGBT (Moscow, for example, recently implemented a 100-year ban on pride parades), as a whole, the community has come a long way since the Stonewall riots in Greenich Village. Ya know, it makes ya kinda proud!