June is Pride Month – the time when the world’s LGBTQ+ communities come together and celebrate the freedom to be themselves. It is a way for the LGBTQ+ community to protest about discrimination and violence. It promotes their dignity, equal rights, self-affirmation and is a way of increasing society’s awareness of the issues they face.
The month of June was chosen to celebrate because it is when the Stonewall Riots took place back in 1969. The riots were prompted by a police raid during the early morning at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village, and began hauling customers outside. Tensions quickly escalated as patrons resisted arrest and a growing crowd of bystanders threw bottles and coins at the officers. New York’s gay community, fed up after years of harassment by authorities, broke out in neighborhood riots that went on for three days. A year after the Stonewall riots, the nation’s first Gay Pride marches were held.
In 1978, artist and designer Gilbert Baker was commissioned by San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk – one of the first openly gay elected officials in the U.S. – to make a flag for the city’s upcoming Pride celebrations. Baker, a prominent gay rights activist, drew inspiration from the rainbow to reflect the many groups within the gay community.
Parades are a prominent feature of Pride month, and there are many street parties, community events, poetry readings, public speaking, street festivals and educational sessions, all of which are covered by mainstream media and attracting millions of participants.
Although attitudes and injustice still remain, we have come a long way since the riots of 1969 and by continuing in this long standing tradition, we continue to raise awareness, improve the attitudes of society and encourage inclusiveness.
Here are some ways you can support Pride Month:
A safe place for resources: Kansas City Center for Inclusion. An affirming and supportive space for LGBTQIA+ adults and youth. Offering community resources, technology access, and a welcome space for small events and gatherings. To support the center, donations are welcome. Located in midtown Kansas City, MO.
Podcast: LGBTQ&A was created in 2016 in order to document modern LGBTQ+ history — to get beyond transition and coming out stories, to get to know each person, their accomplishments, their failures, and how they got to where they are today. Specific Episode suggestion: Janelle Monae (KCK Native!)
Children’s Book: Sharice’s Big Voice - A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman. This acclaimed picture book autobiography tells the triumphant story of Sharice Davids, one of the first Native American women elected to Congress, and the first LGBTQ congressperson to represent Kansas.
Adult Book: Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family. Before Boy Erased was a major motion picture, it was a debut memoir by Garrard Conley – and before it was a memoir, it was the very real experience of Conley’s time in Love In Action, an ex-gay Christian ministry committed to “curing” queer people. Though it’s true we want more queer stories out there with less suffering, it’s important to remember that conversion therapy is still legal (or only partially banned) in a majority of states in the U.S. Conley’s well-written memoir provides a clear window into a truth that needs to change.
Locally owned and inclusive restaurant & bar: Gaels Public House & Sports. Located between the Plaza and Brookside in beautiful Kansas City, Gaels Public House and Sports is the creation of Derrick Bachman, a long-time fixture in Kansas City's culinary scene.