1. Pride is all about gay men – I know it can seem like that, but actually the first Pride parade was co-organized by a bisexual woman
A month after the Stonewall riots, bisexual activist Brenda Howard organized a liberation day march on Christopher Street to commemorate the riots. Then a year later, she helped organize the first Pride march, and a week-long Pride festival. That’s Pride origin story, and it was written by a woman.
2. Pride is about gay men and women – Well, actually, many cities are including transgender events special for Pride. Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle all have special transgender events during Pride. Being involved in these events – even if you’re not transgender – can increase the visibility of this group (a group that sometimes feels marginalized by the LGBT community).
Why? Well, transgender individuals endure unique aggressions and have some of the highest rates of physical assaults and murders in the entire LGBT community. Many activists consider their struggle to be next step in equal rights, and could be the civil rights struggle of this generation.
PLUS, for similar reasons there is (or needs to be) a strong black queer presence at Pride in many cities.
3. Pride stole the rainbow! Actually the first symbol of Gay Rights was the Greek Lambda symbol and was the sign of the Gay Activist Alliance for many years.
But the rainbow flag was a deliberate choice. It was first used in the San Francisco Pride Parade in 1978. Designed by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker, the original flag was hand-dyed and consisted of eight symbolic colors: Hot Pink (sexuality), Red (life), Orange (healing), Yellow (sunlight), Green (nature), Turquoise (magic/art), Blue (serenity/harmony) and violet (spirit). The flag became so popular that Bake asked the Paramount Flag Company to mass produce it. Sadly there a shortage of hot pink fabric, so Baker dropped the hot pink stripe. To keep an even number of stripes, turquoise was also dropped. That is how we ended up with the six-stripe flag that is used today.
Another Fun fact? In 1994, Baker created a mile-long Rainbow Flag, to honor the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. The Guinness Book of World Records recognized it as the world’s largest flag.
4. Pride is AN American thing. Yeah…no Actually, the oldest surviving LGBT organization in the world is Netherland’s Center for Culture and Leisure (COC). It was founded in 1946, and had to use a ‘cover name’ to hide its taboo purpose. (For more information on the COC, check out their site). The largest Pride parade happens in Sao Paulo. It had an estimated 3.5 million attendees in 2011! (For more information about Sao Paulo Pride, check out their site).
South Africa is home to the sole Pride celebrations on the African continent. Two of the most notable are in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The inaugural Joburg Pride parade was held in 1990 and had fewer than one thousand participants Good news though, it has grown considerably since then, with over 20,000 participants in 2009.
5. June is always pride month = not true! It is true that June is traditionally Pride month because that is the month that the Stonewall Riots happened, and Pride is a direct result. But Pride happens all over the calendar. In Baltimore, it’s July (at least this year) and in Australia, they have it in the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras. Yeah, the juxtaposition was funny to me too.
Want more? Here are my photos from Baltimore Pride!