Pride in sexuality

In June 1970, America celebrated its first pride parade for the one year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which were nearly week-long riots between the New York gay community and the New York City police department. Raids of homosexual bars and hangouts were not unusual in the late 1960s. During this era homosexuality was illegal in every state except Illinois. Homosexuals were not only considered criminals, but also, many times, communists.

The Stonewall Inn was a well-known gay bar located in Greenwich Village and had been raided many times before, but the raid on June 28, 1969 was different — the patrons of the bar resisted arrest. The streets exploded into protests and demonstrations that lasted six days. The Stonewall Riots marked the turning point in the modern gay civil rights movement around the world.

Pride celebrations have evolved from radical marches into festive celebrations that praise and promote the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Transsexual and Queer) community.

I’m a long-time supporter of the LGBTQ community. Six years ago, my best friend came out to me as a lesbian. I had known for a very long time, but wanted her to be ready to tell me herself. My opinion of her only became stronger — her courage to “come out” was something I never had to go through, and I couldn’t imagine the internal struggle she had gone through growing up. She still has not come out to her family, who would disown her if they ever found out.

This was our first year at Pride. I was thrilled to see the sense of community and activism. Complete strangers were hanging out with each other, having a beer and talking about their lives and their struggles, both within the gay community and in the rest of their worlds.

I feel that we can learn a lot from the gay community. They have a history, their pride and a sense of community. No matter what your sexuality or sexual preferences, we should be proud of who we are and where we have come from.