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Pride Month: The History of Pride and the Rainbow Flag

Updated: Jun 15

Welcome to Basic Goodness Blog, here we celebrate all aspects of life with compassion and inclusivity. Today, we're turning our focus to Pride Month—a time to honor and support the LGBTQIA+ community, reflect on the history of the movement, and recognize the ongoing fight for equality and acceptance.

Rainbown paint colors.

According to The Center: "LGBTQIA+ is an abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and more. These terms are used to describe a person's sexual orientation or gender identity."


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The History of Pride Month




Pride Month is held in June to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community and commemorate the Stonewall Riots, which took place in New York City in 1969.


The Stonewall Riots, also called the Stonewall Uprising, began on June 28, 1969 when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City. At the time, homosexuality was considered a criminal offense and police regularly raided gay bars throughout the U.S.


Fed up with the harassment, the raid sparked a riot among patrons and neighborhood residents, leading to a week of protests and violent clashes outside the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street and in neighboring streets. While the gay rights movement was well underway prior to the riots, the first gay rights organization was founded in 1924, the Stonewall Riots marked a significant turning point for the movement in the United States and around the world.


According to NYC Pride, the first Pride march was held on June 27, 1970, one year after the riots, marking the anniversary and the beginning of what has become an annual tradition.






 

The Pride Flag


The original Pride Rainbow Flag was created by artist and activist Gilbert Baker in 1978. Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States, and other San Francisco activists asked Baker to create a symbol of pride for the LGBTQIA+ community.


According to Gilbert Baker's website, Baker's work as a vexillographer (flag maker) spanned nearly four decades. After completing his military service as a medic in the U.S. Army, Baker devoted his life to activism; using his artistic talents to support the gay rights movement.





"A Rainbow Flag was a conscious choice, natural and necessary. The rainbow came from the earliest recorded history as a symbol of hope. In the Book of Genesis, it appeared as proof of a covenant between God and all living creatures. It was also found in Chinese, Egyptian and Native American history. A Rainbow Flag would be our modern alternative to the pink triangle. Now the rioters who claimed their freedom at the Stonewall Bar in 1969 would have their own symbol of liberation.” - Gilbert Baker



Each color on the flag has a specific meaning:


  • Red: Life

  • Orange: Healing

  • Yellow: Sunlight

  • Green: Nature

  • Blue: Harmony

  • Violet: Spirit


The original flag included eight colors, rather than today's six color flag. After Harvey Milk's assassination in November 1978, demand for the flag increased. However, hot pink fabric was difficult to source; therefore, it was removed. The turquoise stripe was also removed, due to a design decision, resulting in the six-color version we recognize today.


Additional Pride Flags


There are numerous versions of the Pride Flag, each one representing diverse LGBTQIA+ identities. One of the more popular flags is the Progress Flag created by Daniel Quaser. This flag includes a white, pink, and light blue stripe to represent the Trans community as well as black and brown stripes to represent communities of color. The black stripe also honors those lost during the HIV/AIDS crisis. The Human Rights Campaign has a complete guide to the evolution and meaning of each Pride Flag.


Pride Flag Controversy


As more individuals, city municipalities, and public entities are flying the Pride flag, others are working to ban it. The ACLU has partnered with the Gilbert Baker Foundation to "Save the Rainbow Flag". Visit Gilbert Baker's website for more information on their efforts and learn more about the bans. They also provide a toolkit to those wanting to fight flag bans in their community.


 

Why Pride Matters






Pride Month is a reminder of the progress that has been made and the work that still needs to be done. Here are a few reasons why Pride is important:


  1. Visibility and Representation: Pride events provide a platform for LGBTQIA+ individuals to be seen and heard. Visibility is crucial in breaking down stereotypes and fostering understanding and acceptance.

  2. Community and Solidarity: Pride fosters a sense of belonging and community. It brings together people from all walks of life to support and celebrate each other.

  3. Advocacy and Education: Pride raises awareness about the issues facing the LGBTQIA+ community, from discrimination and violence to mental health challenges. It serves as a call to action for allies to support and advocate for equal rights.

  4. Celebration of Identity: Pride is a celebration of the unique identities within the LGBTQIA+ community. It encourages individuals to embrace who they are without fear of judgment or rejection.


The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports that 17% of hate crimes were motivated by sexual orientation. (Source: FBI 2022 Hate Crime Statistics)



"The FBI’s report comes amid an unprecedented spike in anti-LGBTQ+ state legislation, with more than 550 bills introduced in 43 states, and more than 80 signed into law — more than doubling last year (2022), which was previously the worst year on record. The wave of harmful and discriminatory legislation and the concurrent spike in anti-transgender rhetoric and violence prompted HRC in June to declare a national state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people for the first time in the organization’s more than 40-year history." - Human Rights Campaign

 

"Rainbow Washing"





 

How You Can Support the LGBTQIA+ Community All Year Long


Here are a few ways to get involved:


  • Educate Yourself and Others: Learn about the history of the LGBTQIA+ movement and the challenges the community faces today. Share this knowledge with friends and family.

  • Support LGBTQIA+ Organizations: Donate to or volunteer with organizations that advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights and provide support services.

  • Be an Ally: Stand up against discrimination and hate. Support LGBTQIA+ individuals in your personal and professional life.

  • Attend Pride Events: Show your support by attending parades, festivals, and other events in your area.


Happy Pride!


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