June 1 marks the beginning of Pride Month, a time to reflect, celebrate progress, and advocate for LGBTQ rights.
Pride Month looks a little different this year. But now is a more important time than ever to remember the movement's roots and acknowledge that Pride would not exist if it weren't for the efforts of black LGBTQ activists.
The Stonewall riots began on June 28, 1969, when police raided a gay club in Greenwich Village called The Stonewall Inn. The raid sparked a riot among customers and neighborhood residents against the officers, resulting in thousands of people protesting across the city for six days.
The Stonewall riots are often regarded as a catalyst for the gay rights movement, as several LGBTQ rights demonstrations took place shortly afterward. One year after the riots, Christopher Street Liberation Day — considered the first Pride celebration in the US — took place in Central Park.
Black LGBTQ people were heavily involved in Stonewall. One of the most important figures in the LGBTQ rights movement was black queer activist Marsha P. Johnson, often regarded as one of the most vocal leaders of the Stonewall riots.
There are many, many more queer black activists responsible for the progress of the LGBTQ rights movement. This Pride Month, we must take the time to remember, celebrate, and honor them. Without them, Pride would not be possible.
"It is important to remember that the revolutionary riots at Stonewall in 1969 were spearheaded by many LGBTQ people of color, and that none of the progress made for the acceptance and equality of LGBTQ people over the past 51 years would be possible if not for the action and courage of those protestors," GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis said. "This Pride Month, we’ll be centering and lifting up the voices of Black LGBTQ people. There can be no Pride if it is not intersectional. We are Together in Pride. Black Lives Matter."
This post has been updated to more accurately reflect Marsha P. Johnson's identity, which Marsha at various times described as "gay," "transvestite," and a "drag queen."