A brief history of Pride

Historically, Pride week can be traced back to June 27, 1969, when the Stonewall riots took place in Greenwich Village in New York City. Though the riot was small in comparison to other famous riots, with four policemen injured and 13 homosexuals arrested, the event was one of our finest and most fierce moments.  

Police invaded the famous Stonewall Inn, throwing the customers into waiting paddy-wagons. Our GLBT brothers and sisters revolted by throwing coins at the policemen to signify their disgust with the treatment after paying notorious payoffs to keep the bar open without a liquor license. As with all good mass revolts, soon there were bottles, rocks and even a parking meter being thrown at policemen. Prior to this event there had been very little public expression of GLBT issues and rights. 

Since 1969, there have been many famous events to give us momentum, reason and power to celebrate and claim our PRIDE once a year in parks around the world. Here are just a few:


• Gay San Francisco postal worker fights attempt by Civil Service Commission to fire him for “moral incompetence” and recovers job, paving way for reforms.

• First Gay Liberation National Conference held in Austin, Texas.

• Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund incorporates in Albany, NY.

• Olivia Records is created to record lesbian feminist music.

• The American Psychiatric Association declares that homosexuality is not a psychiatric disorder.

• More than 100,000 people take part in the first March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. 


• Center for Disease Control reports in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report about five men with rare form of pneumonia, Pneumocystis carinii.

• Researchers discover the HIV virus that causes AIDS.

• West Hollywood incorporates and a majority of openly gay City Council members are elected, making it the first gay-run city.

• Actor Rock Hudson announces that he has AIDS, prompting widespread attention to the disease.

• The Supreme Court rules that the Constitution allows states to pass and enforce sodomy laws targeting homosexuals.

• Second Gay March on Washington features unveiling of the AIDS quilt.


• “Common Threads,” a film about five people with AIDS wins best documentary at the Academy Awards.

• President George Bush signs into law the Hate Crimes Statistics Act, requiring the federal government to track crimes relating to sexual orientation and other biases.

• The term “outing” is coined by Time Magazine.

• Karen Thompson is named legal guardian of her lover, Sharon Kowalski, eight years after a car accident left Kowalski paralyzed and speech-impaired. The ruling is a major victory for lesbian and gay couples.

• South Africa becomes the first country in the world to introduce legislation to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation into its constitution.

• Gay rights legislation is passed in seven states.

• Marketing reports suggest that gays have more expendable income than heterosexuals and mainstream advertisers begin marketing in gay publications.

• “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy becomes law for the U.S. military.

• “Philadelphia,” a movie about a lawyer with AIDS, opens in theaters.

• Ellen Degeneres has her TV character come out.

• Vermont’s Supreme Court rules that gay couples deserve the same rights as heterosexual married couples.

• Matthew Shepard is murdered because he is gay. His death sparks a Washington, D.C., march and a renewed push for gay hate crime legislation.

• The Supreme Court of the United States rules in the case Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services that federal laws banning on-the-job sexual harassment also apply when both parties are the same sex.

21st Century

• April 2000 - Vermont approaches the creation of same-sex unions entitling gay couples to rights and benefits normally available to married couples.

• June 2003 - The Supreme Court of the United States rules in the case Lawrence v. Texas that sodomy laws are unconstitutional.

• August 2003 - Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, is elected bishop-designate of New Hampshire.

• November 2003 - The New Hampshire Supreme Court rules that sex between people of the same gender, one of whom is married, does not constitute adultery under New Hampshire law.

• November 2003 - The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules 4-3 that government attorneys "failed to identify any constitutionally adequate reason" to deny gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. The court gives the Massachusetts Legislature six months to rewrite the state's marriage laws in order to fix this.

• February 2004 - The Massachusetts high court rules that only full, equal marriage rights for gay couples, not civil unions, would be constitutional.

• February 2004 - City officials in San Francisco, California begin issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples. They perform the first known civil marriage of a homosexual couple in the U.S. by marrying the homosexual activists and lesbian couple, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. Over 80 couples are given quick ceremonies.

• March 2004 - The California Supreme Court issues a stay ordering San Francisco officials to cease issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

• March 2004 - In Quebec, the Court of Appeals upholds a superior court ruling that same-sex marriages are legal under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

• March 2004 - A lesbian minister in Bothell, Washington, is acquitted by a Methodist church jury of violating church rules.

• April 2005 - Civil Unions become legal in Connecticut.

• April 2005 - A prominent Republican consultant who has directed a series of hard-edged political campaigns to elect conservatives in the U.S. and Israel over the last 25 years announces that he has married his male partner in a civil ceremony in Massachusetts.

• July 2006 - Top courts in two U.S. states - New York and Georgia - hand down decisions against the gay marriage movement. The New York Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, rules same-sex unions are not allowed under state law. Georgia's Supreme Court reinstates a voter-approved ban on gay marriage, reversing a lower court's ruling.

• October 2006 - New Jersey's Supreme Court rules that same-sex couples are entitled to the same civil rights as heterosexual couples. The ruling does not approve gay marriage in the state and gives the legislature six months to decide on a definition of marriage.

• November 2006 - Voters in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin are asked whether they support a ban on same-sex marriage. The ballot measure passes in all states except Arizona.

• November 2006 - South Africa's parliament passes a bill giving same-sex couples the legal right to marry or to have a civil union, making it the first African country to approve same-sex marriage.

• November 2006 - Israel's High Court of Justice rules that two gay men married in Canada, as well as four other same-sex couples wedded abroad, should have their union recognized in Israel.

• February 2007 - The Italian cabinet approves legislation to grant legal rights to unmarried couples - both same-sex and heterosexual - but stops short of allowing gay marriage.

Photo courtesy of Joe Eats World

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