7 things you might not know about the history of Pride

LGBTQ+ Pride has a long and intricate history throughout the world with many overlooked or unknown facts.

Gay Pride, Gay Liberation Movement

Now that Pride Month is here, it’s important to reflect on the journey of the LGBTQ+ community and the Pride movement. Fighting for equality has been a long struggle, and for many, it’s still not over. Read our seven facts about Pride and maybe you’ll learn something new!

1. Transgender women of colour made history at Stonewall.

Rivera and Johnson stand at police line, history made

When looking back at the history of the Stonewall Riots, it is often white-washed. Marsha P Johnson, an African-American transgender woman, is often cited as playing a pivotal role in the uprising. Slyvia Rivera, another trans woman of colour, is credited with activism associated with Stonewall. Although lesbians, gays, bisexuals and others participated in the riot, it’s important to remember the role of transgender people and people of colour in history as they are often excluded.

2. “Mother of Pride” Brenda Howard was bisexual.

Brenda Howard at Pride

One month after the three-day standoff at Stonewall, LGBTQ+ people gathered in New York City for one of the country’s first marches. The march, known as The Christopher Street Liberation Day March, allowed queer people to publicly proclaim their identities with Pride. What most people do not know is that the march was organised by Brenda Howard, a bisexual woman. She dedicated her life to LGBTQ+ activism, especially Pride marches, and became known as the Mother of Pride. With bi erasure a huge issue in the mainstream and in the queer community, we cannot forget the history that this bisexual made.

3. The original Rainbow Flag had eight colours.

The original Rainbow Flag

Gilbert Baker created the original rainbow Pride flag in 1978 after Harvey Milk asked him to create a symbol for the LGBTQ+ community. Each colour represented a meaning. Top to bottom they are: sex, life, healing, sunlight, nature, magic/art, serenity and spirit. After the assassination of Milk, there was a high demand for the rainbow flag. The hot pink colour was dropped due to the unavailability of the fabric. In 1979, the six colour version became popular.

4. Pride was originally called “Gay Liberation” or “Gay Freedom”.

Gay Liberation Front Protest

The name “Pride” didn’t catch on until the 1980’s. The original names of “Gay Liberation” and “Gay Freedom” were meant to inspire LGBTQ+ people to become directly involved with queer activism. Towards the mid-1980’s, the militant nature of many organisations began to fizzle out. The focus shifted from guerrilla activism to forging relationships. From then on, the term Pride was used to express a sense of community and acceptance.

5. The lambda was the original Gay Rights symbol.

Rainbow Flag with white Lambda

Before the Rainbow Flag, many gay rights activists and groups used the Greek lambda as an LGBTQ+ symbol. It’s the symbol of the Gay Activist Alliance, who say the meaning of the symbol in chemistry means, “a complete exchange of energy–that moment or span of time witness to absolute activity.” The historical symbol is used to represent finding harmony and equality. Lambda Legal and the Lambda Literary Foundation took inspiration from this symbol and used it in their organisations’ names.

6. The oldest surviving LGBTQ+ organisation is in the Netherlands.

COC Netherlands

In 1946, the Center for Culture and Leisure (COC) was founded in Amsterdam. The centre used the name as a cover up for its real purpose. It was one of the first places where LGBTQ+ people could meet. The organisation is still active in Eindhoven.

7. There was a micro-nation of LGBTQ+ people called the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands.

Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands

The idea for the gay nation was introduced during Brisbane Gay and Lesbian Pride Festival in 2003. In 2004, after the Australian government refused to legalise same-sex marriage, a group of LGBTQ+ activists went through with the idea. The Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands, or the Gay Kingdom of the Coral Sea, for short, was founded on Australia’s external overseas Territory of the Coral Sea Islands near the Great Barrier Reef. They declared war on Australia on September 13, 2004. Self-proclaimed Emperor Dale declared that the kingdom was to be dissolved after Australia legalised same-sex marriage in 2017.

As you go through the rest of the month and the year, bring these Pride facts with you. Don’t be afraid to share your new found knowledge with other community members!

© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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