8 things you might not know about the history of Pride

LGBT+ 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 history of the LGBT+ community and the Pride movement. Fighting for equality has been a long struggle and for many, it’s still not over. Read our eight 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 and drag queen, 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 and face discrimination to this day.

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

Brenda Howard at Pride

One month after the three-day standoff at Stonewall, LGBT+ 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 organized by Brenda Howard, a bisexual woman. She dedicated her life to LGBT+ activism, especially pride marches, and became known as the “Mother of Pride”. With bi erasure becoming a huge issue in the mainstream and 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 LGBT+ 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 that’s used now became popular.

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

Gay Liberation Front Protest

The name “Pride” didn’t catch on until after the 1980s. The original names of “Gay Liberation” and “Gay Freedom” were meant to inspire LGBT+ people to become directly involved with queer activism. Towards the mid-1980s, 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 LGBT+ symbol. It’s the symbol of the Gay Activist Alliance who says 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 organisation’s names.

6. There is a separate Pride for Black, Trans and Latinx people.

LGBT Black Pride

Many people of colour and non-cisgender individuals have created their own, separate pride parades in a variety of cities. Sometimes, Pride doesn’t feel as inclusive as it should. It can forget to acknowledge the intersectionality of race, gender, sexuality, etc. Black, Trans and Latinx pride parades help to bridge the gaps. These specific marches help to show diversity within the LGBT+ community and highlight relevant activists from history.

7. The oldest surviving LGBT+ 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 LGBT+ people could meet. The organisation is still active in Eindhoven.

8. There was a micronation of LGBT+ 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 LGBT+ 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 June 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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