As part of LGBT+ History Month, Kris reflects on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and today’s Pride movement.
The Stonewall Riots are widely recognised as one of the key moments in the history of the LGBT+ community, helping to launch the modern day movement that we recognise today, with a key example being that of Pride.
Three years after the events in New York, in 1972, approximately 2,000 people gathered in London for the first official UK Gay Pride Rally to march in the name of LGBT+ equality.
In the years since that first rally, Pride has grown across the UK with many major towns and cities now organising Pride events throughout the year. However it cannot be denied that, for many, the meaning of Pride seems to have got lost.
In the 1970s, male homosexuality had only recently been decriminalised but homophobic attitudes remained a major issue. In the 1980s the rise of the HIV/AIDS crisis and the introduction of Section 28 led to an increased need to fight back. A fight back which would include the trade union movement thanks to the solidarity shown to striking miners by groups such as Lesbians and Gay Men Support the Miners.
In the 1990s and into the 2000s the fight shifted to organising for equality, with the tide slowly shifting from the introduction of Section 28 in the 80s to its final repeal in the early noughties. At the same time other advances would be won: an equal age of consent, employment protections, adoption rights and, for the first time, the ability for the Trans community to receive legal recognition of their acquired gender; to name just a few.
Today there is a feeling among some that the fight is over. Gone is the need for Pride to be political and in its place a celebration, a “festival” for LGBT+ equality with campaigners sidelined in favour of corporations trying to sell their LGBT+ credentials in pursuit of the ‘pink pound’ while a headline act performs their latest tune.
Of course, we should celebrate. Our community has come a long way over the past 50 years since that summer night at Stonewall. However, we must not be complacent and should ensure that Pride also retains its political roots.
LGBT+ hate remains a daily threat for many, particularly those in more isolated parts of the country or who may be less affluent and therefore unable to afford the cost of a ticket to “celebrate” their Pride.
Around the world, over 70 countries continue to criminalise LGBT+ citizens, responding to any attempt to organise or campaign with state sanctioned violence.
So we must ensure that our Pride continues to uphold its political heritage and we can all play a part to make sure that it does.
We already attend many Pride events across the UK and invite all members, whether you are LGBT+ or an ally, to join us. Alternatively, if you would like to organise a presence at your local Pride, contact us and we will be happy to assist.
Proud is open to all PCS members, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. For more details, visit our equality pages.