The History Behind Why We Celebrate Pride Month

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Pride month is in full swing, and while it's an amazing celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community, it's also an important time for us to realize how much work still needs to be done when it comes to fighting for equality and visibility for all people, regardless of sexual orientation. What is Pride month, for the LGBTQ community? It's many things. But most of all, it's a way to let others know that there's nothing wrong with identifying as gay, and that they deserve the same rights that everyone does — it's a way to celebrate people for who they truly are. The festivities that happen during Pride are open to both the LGBTQ community as well as their allies and supporters. Many towns have parades or festivals that celebrate the fact that everyone is an asset to their community, and that acceptance is a concept that everyone should embrace. Everyone has a right to feel like they belong.

For people within the LGBTQ community, life can often come with a set of struggles — the act of coming out to family is often filled with a lot of pressure, and many may feel as if there's something "wrong" with them for the way they identify. Pride helps to spread the message that nobody should be ashamed of the way they were born, and that nobody should feel alone when figuring out these feelings.

One name that's quite notable to the LGBTQ community is Craig Rodwell. In 1958, Rodwell moved to New York City to join the Mattachine Society, an early gay rights group that welcomed his activism. Rodwell organized a few events in New York City and Washington D.C., and also opened the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, a storefront in Greenwich Village which specialized in selling LGBT-related books and materials. After the Stonewall riot, which took place in 1969 and helped jumpstart more gay liberation movements, Rodwell helped organize the Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee, who helped organize the first Pride march on June 28, 1970. This march covered a lot of ground, and received a lot of media attention, which helped inspire more and more walks to take place throughout the United States. This legendary march was likely the reason why June is set aside as Gay Pride Month.

The Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. is still an active chapter, and focuses on education and archival research of legal and political documents. They pride themselves on having the first gay rights protests in the D.C. area.

Today, there are many different cities that have their own Pride organization. For example, Brevard County in Florida is home to Space Coast Pride, which started out as a simple LGBTQ-friendly picnic back in 2007 and grew into so much more. On its site, the group features a quote that summarizes Pride beautifully. In the words of Nancy Mullen, "Pride means that every LGBTQ person can show the world who they really are without fear or shame and claim themselves an asset to society. Pride is showing people it is time to catch up with progressives and accept all people for who they truly are. Personally, Pride means having two sons, one straight and one gay, and expecting society to treat them equally."

This month, it's important to celebrate Pride. While we've come a long way with promoting love and acceptance of all human beings, there's still more work to be done.

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