Why Pride?

How the LGBTQ community came to own the word 'pride'

The word “pride” has become heavily associated with the LGBTQ community. It is the name of the yearly celebration including a festival and a parade for many communities. It is a word members of the community use to identify themselves and the movement of which they are a part. It is also a word that was almost never associated with the LGBTQ community at all.

One year after the Stonewall riots, an incident where police attempted to raid a gay bar in New York and were met with resistance from patrons, community members organized a march to commemorate the riot. The first protest march and celebration was to honor Christopher Street Liberation Day, named after the street on which activists marched.

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Activists wanted a broader label to unite various community events. At first, the discussion focused on the word “power” as a potential unifying theme. Other minority advocacy groups were using the word power to describe their goals, such as the Black Power movement, around that same time.

Bisexual activist Brenda Howard advocated for the name of the protest march to be changed to “pride.” In 2015, Howard told the Allusionist podcast that she preferred “pride” to power. “There’s very little chance for people in the world to have power. People did not have power then; even now, we only have some. But anyone can have pride in themselves, and that would make them happier as people, and produce the movement likely to produce change.”

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While the LGBTQ movement has been around since the early 1920s in some form, the attention brought to the struggles of the community after the Stonewall riots and the commemorations in the years following became very effective, in part because of the word “pride” and how it resonated with the community at large.

President Bill Clinton solidified the term on an official level when he issued a proclamation declaring that every June would be Gay and Lesbian Pride Month in honor of Stonewall.

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