Pride has been associated with the LGBTQ+ community for a long time.
It is a festival that is marked by the joy in being who you are, the confidence to do so in public, and the long hard fight for recognition that a lot of different LGBTQ+ people have experienced.
In the past, Pride was much smaller than it is now and many LGBTQ+ people were afraid to be seen even near it.
However, times have changed for the better – in a lot of cases – and now many LGBTQ+ people and allies are seen at Pride regularly.
Yet, we must never forget the past and for young people, this can be challenging as they never lived through the reasons why Pride became known as Pride.
That is why in this article, we will look at Pride, why it became known as Pride, and why it is a name we should all be proud of.
Why Is Pride Called Pride?
To look at why Pride is called Pride, we have to look at the events that lead to the first Pride march, before the Christopher Street Liberation better known as the Stonewall Riots:
In America, gay rights have never exactly been enforced or made universal, but this got particularly bad in the 1950s and 60s, when an extremely repressive legal period was pushed on LGBTQ+ people by the government, which then trickled down into be socially repressive as well.
These repressive periods eventually culminated in many homophile societies forming pickets outside of Independence Hall in Philadelphia on 4th July every year from 1965 to remind people that LGBTQ+ people did not have the same level of human rights as heteronormative people.
The wants of the LGBTQ+ people for social change and the increasingly repressive tactics used by the government to stamp it out became a powder keg that exploded on June 28th 1969.
In the early hours of the morning, a police raid occurred at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar, on Christopher Street in Manhattan.
When the police became violent towards the people within, the patrons of the Stonewall, other LGBTQ+ bars in the area, and local people reacted and began to fight back.
The scale of the reaction meant that the police officers quickly lost control of the situation and began reacting more violently to the ever-increasing crowd, which enraged the people even more.
After a lesbian was struck by a baton and thrown into a wagon, the crowd erupted, and so began the Stonewall Riots. These were a series of clashes between the crowd supporting gay rights and the police over the course of several days on Christopher Street.
Although some were arrested, the consensus is that the police were humiliated in this situation and Stonewall marks the tipping point at which legal and social change began. However, it also marks the point at which the first Pride event were sown.
After Stonewall – Christopher Street Liberation Day
After Stonewall, there were plenty who just wanted to forget. But a lot in the LGBTQ+ community wanted to mark the occasion with a march on the same day as the Stonewall Riots, but in the next year.
Originally, Craig Rodwell, Fred Sargent, and Ellen Broidy proposed a march through New York.
They brought in other organizers for the event, and it was Brenda Howard who coined the term – with publicity help from Robert A. Martin and L. Craig Schoonmaker – after she felt that the title ‘Gay Power’ wasn’t great.
Instead, she proposed ‘Gay Pride’ and on the 28th June 1970 the first Gay Pride march through in the world walked from Christopher Street to Central Park (51 Blocks) and made history in the process.
Although it took less time than scheduled, due to fears and excitement, the march encountered very little resistance and due to the size of the march (it took up the entire street for 15 blocks), it is pretty obvious where the majority of public sympathies lay.
Brenda Howard’s changing of Power to Pride in the title was a marketing goldmine, as suddenly the term did not appear so hostile to many people in the country, who had been conditioned to fear different powers (especially by the anti-communist administrations).
Instead, it conjured up feelings of pride and proud moments, in a country that is itself very proud of its achievements.
While it was not one of the big reasons that Pride spread so rapidly, it certainly helped.
In 1970, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco all held Pride events of differing degrees of size. In 1971, Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee, and even international places like London, Paris, and West Berlin held Pride events.
From the start of the Stonewall Riots to the end of the second year of Pride, it was estimated that the number of gay groups operating in America had gone from 50 to about 2500, with some estimates putting it higher.
Now, Pride is a festival celebrated by many towns and cities all over the world. While Stonewall may have been the catalyst for this, it cannot be underestimated how much the branding of the event as ‘Pride’ helped with its spread and acceptance by many communities.
Is Pride Still Important?
Even in the LGBTQ+ community, there are many questions surrounding whether Pride is helping or hindering LGBTQ+ progress and recognition in the world.
We are here to tell you – for all the corporate branding around the event – it is still hugely important and influential to many different people, especially in countries where it may not be acceptable to be gay.
Many people are still attacked for their real, perceived, or insinuated sexual orientation or gender identity.
This is an all too common occurrence and one which their attackers get away with regularly, due to societal norms and ideals that continue with them.
There is constant homophobic and transphobic legislation introduced that erodes at the fabric of their identity.
Pride can help to change these ideals, as it makes LGBTQ+ visible and not just a stereotype in the dark. It is much harder to demonize a person you know than a random group, especially if that person is not doing anything morally wrong.
Pride also allows heteronormative people into LGBTQ+ culture and shows them that the community is not different from their own and that our people are one and the same.
The only difference between us are the barriers that people put up, and once you take those barriers down, it is hard for most people to remain hostile to something so benign.
Pride also reminds people that rights should not be taken for granted in the least. They are still banned occasionally, and sometimes police will actively try to stop them.
This gives people very real and concrete examples of right’s erosion and will make them more active in stopping this erosion from happening.
Pride is called Pride because the group that got together for the first Christopher Street Liberation Day in 1970 decided that that name encompassed everything they stood for.
It was a well picked name, and it has now come to symbolize gay culture and gay power in a way that no other word could.