From New York's Stonewall riots of 1969 to Spokane's Pride Parade of 2009, a look at how it came to be
by Natalie Wendt
Spokane Pride 2006 Photo by Pat Devine
If you participate in any of this June's GLBT Pride events, you'll be part of living history. Parades promoting GLBTQ visibility and marches for gay rights have taken place every June for the last forty years. Today, gay pride parades are usually colorful celebrations. The events that sparked the first June Pride events, however, were violent.
In 1969, police raids on gay and lesbian bars were common. Though the police entered the establishments claiming to look for liquor license violations, they frequently arrested law-abiding patrons. Those dressed in drag or in a way that didn't conform to their perceived gender were especially targeted. Records of the arrests linked patrons to gay establishments and these records were often made public. Antigay harassment was largely unchecked. Employers could and did fire employees for their sexual orientation. Although GLBT rights organizations existed in the U.S. at the time, their membership numbered only in the thousands. Staying in the closet was a fact of life for many. During police raids, patrons usually tried to sneak out the back and draw as little attention to themselves as possible. All that changed on the night of June 27th, 1969, when New York police raided Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. Instead of leaving quietly, the costumers who were not arrested formed a crowd outside of the bar. The crowd swelled to 500 or 600 people, including those from neighboring bars. They shouted "Gay power!" as police loaded the PRIDE - Continued Page 8
www.qviewnorthwest.com | Q View Northwest - Spokane Edition | June 2009 |