Why do we have Pride? | Being.LGBT Why do we have Pride? - Being.LGBT
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Why do we have Pride?

And why is it necessary?

Added to FAQ, on 2 June, 2016

Why do we have Pride?

This is a question that is often put to the Queer community: why do you have Pride, and not us? Do we still even need Pride? Some commentators see Pride as divisive, unnecessary, or unfair. But to do so rather misses the point of Pride parades.

The first Pride parades weren’t set up as ‘celebrations’ or parties. They were political protests, particularly in places where homosexuality was still a criminal offence, and Queer people faced ongoing, constant persecution. In 1965, ECHO (the East Coast Homophile Organisation) arranged pickets at the White House (USA) demanding rights. This was followed by other protests, such as the 1965 sit-in at Dewey’s, a restaurant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After a manager refused to serve people who looked ‘gay’, 150 people participated in a sit in, and four were arrested.

In 1966, a fifteen car ‘motorcade’ of various Homophile organisations took place on Armed Forces Day in the US, which could be seen as the first example of the infamous Gay Pride floats at Pride Parades. Numerous demonstrations, sit-ins and protests followed worldwide, but with the Stonewall Riots came a new sense of Queer people refusing to be persecuted any longer.

Stonewall

Following the riots, on the 1st July, 1969, the first ‘Gay Pride Parade’ of sorts took place on Christopher Street, New York as a demonstration. This wasn’t about flaunting sexuality or gender, but rather about showing resilience. Although many countries in Europe, such as the UK, had recently decriminalised homosexuality, Stonewall had set the domino-effect, and many other countries followed suit.

It is important to note that Pride parades became annual events that not only commemorated the many Queer people who fought for Queer rights, but also celebrated the survival of Queer people against the odds. This is still evident in many countries where Queer rights and expression are illegal or oppressed.

When looking at Pride, it’s important to note that the word ‘Pride’ is, perhaps, a little ill-used – rather than being “proud” of Queerness, it’s more a statement of being ‘unashamed’. Even in liberal countries with great records on Queer right, Pride is an opportunity for Queer people to celebrate and recognise the tempestuous history that Queer Rights has.

With the outbreak of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s, Pride also became a way for Queer people – who were disproportionately effected by HIV/AIDS – to show their resilience, to raise funds for research, and to provide a haven for people with HIV/AIDS who were shunned by the rest of society (as were many Queer people as a whole at the time).

So when it comes to asking the question – ‘is it necessary?’ then absolutely it is. Although to those who do not participate, Pride events and regional Mardis Gras may look like a huge party, a huge amount of charity fundraising, awareness and participation take place, which is important for allowing Queer people to access the services available to them. It also allows straight allies to opportunity to embrace parts of Queer cultures and histories that they may not have had the opportunity to do so before.

When it comes to the question – why don’t Straight people have Pride parades? Well the answer lies in this: for the same reason non-veterans don’t have a non-Veterans day (or a War remembrance equivalent), and why people without experiences of Cancer do not have a non-Cancer day. These days are there as a reminder of society’s history and progress. And when it comes to the ongoing development of Queer rights and identity, it’s important to celebrate that – and remember all those who fought and suffered for it.

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Why do we have Pride?