By OLY ARTS STAFF
History shows that in every society and culture, human beings have refused to fit into a narrow sex-and-gender box, yet for decades the United States government attempted to repress and discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and other “queer” expressions of sexuality. Back in the 1950s and ’60s, protest groups regularly demonstrated for equal rights and civil protections on July Fourth at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
In the 1960s, during the birth of Stokely Carmichael’s “Black Is Beautiful” campaign, gay civil-rights pioneer Frank Kameny starting using the slogan “Gay Is Good” to confront social stigma. That was one of the first seeds of the Pride movement.
On June 28, 1969, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning persons rioted after a police raid on a New York City gay bar called the Stonewall Inn. That incident grew into six days of protests and riots, and the movement for equality entered public consciousness. In November of that same year, Ellen Broidy, Linda Rhodes, Craig Rodwell and Fred Sargeant proposed New York’s first parade march and called for nationwide support.
Brenda Howard, one of the early organizers, came up with the idea for a week-long series of events around Pride Day. That became the genesis of the annual LGBT Pride celebrations now held around the world every June. Howard is known today as the “Mother of Pride” for her work in coordinating that first march. On the same weekend, gay activist groups on the West Coast held a march in Los Angeles and a march and “Gay-In” in San Francisco. Thus a movement was born.
By the 1970s, gay-pride marches were taking place in Boston, Dallas, London, Milwaukee, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Stockholm and West Berlin. By 1972 participating cities included Atlanta, Brighton, Buffalo, Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Olympia’s own Pride Parade started in 1990 and has been the largest small-city celebration for decades.
Several past U.S. presidential administrations have made an official declaration of Pride Month. President Clinton first declared June “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month” on June 11, 1999 and again in 2000. For eight years, from 2009 to 2016, President Obama declared each June “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.”
“I call upon all Americans to observe this month by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exists.” — proclamation by President Obama, May 28, 2010
The history of Pride is a rainbow of forward progress toward civil protection, equal rights and free expression. We invite you to join Olympia’s march and festival and be part of this historic movement.
Capital City Pride 2018
Parade in downtown Olympia
Festival at Heritage Park, Fifth Ave. SW, Olympia