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June 28, 2022 //  //       //  Opinion

Pride Month — A History of Protests, Power and Parties

Pride is a month-long celebration dedicated to uplifting LGBTQ+ voices and championing rights for LGBTQ+ identifying people. While today it serves as a time for celebration and community-building around the world, it’s important to recognize Pride’s history and the significance of LGBTQ+ activists and allies who fought for the right to identify freely and openly without persecution. 

LGBTQ+ Pride Month is an annual commemoration of the Stonewall Uprising, which served as the catalyst for the gay liberation movement in the United States. On June 28, 1966, local police conducted a raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village. Patrons were angered as law enforcement had once again quelled their right to engage freely among their community. When the police became violent, the crowd fought back. This pivotal moment inspired a new generation of queer-identifying people to fight for their civil rights.  

Prior to the Stonewall Uprising, it was illegal to “
engage in gay behavior.” Holding hands, kissing and dancing with a person of the same sex were acts considered punishable by law. Members of the LGBTQ+ community were often harassed by law enforcement, denied adequate healthcare and prohibited from gathering. The New York State Liquor Authority branded members of the community as being “disorderly” and would use this reasoning to routinely penalize and shut down bars and clubs that served alcohol to known or suspected LGBTQ+ identifying individuals. The community knew it had to take direct action to stop the blatant infringement of LGBTQ+ people's constitutional rights, especially their inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness. 

After more than 50 years of protest, LGBTQ+ Americans finally achieved basic rights, such as the right to marry legally and the ability to express themselves outwardly and celebrate Pride as a community. Still, it is important to pause and recognize the significant efforts of LGBTQ+ community activists who stepped into their power to help get us to this point. That includes leaders Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Stormé DeLarverie and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy. We also highlight Laverne Cox and Raquel Willis, who have continued to do the work by using their platforms to advocate for civil rights and by proudly and publicly embracing their LGBTQ+ identities. We must also acknowledge we have a long way to go in making the LGBTQ+ movement more inclusive of race, disability, gender expression, class, etc., and we must work to ensure these voices are not erased.  

So, how can we respectfully commemorate Pride Month? For brands, it should be about more than tapping into LGBTQ+ consumer buying power through a temporary rainbow-colored logo. Marketers should instead gain perspective from the community – especially those of differing races, ethnicities, abilities, backgrounds and cultures – and elevate their individual voices rather than speaking for them.  

Brands must recognize they have the power to call for continued education, allyship and responsible partnerships that uplift the LGBTQ+ community all year round. Additionally, individual allies can also take this time to learn, ask questions, and support your queer friends and family members.  

Earlier this month, our agency shared several resources that provide continued education and inspire ongoing allyship – not just during Pride Month, but every single day. After all, in the words of Marsha P. Johnson, “No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.” 

Watch, Listen and Read: 

  • Paris Is Burning, a 1990 documentary that chronicles New York’s ballroom scene of the 1980s (available on HBO MAX) 
  • The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, featuring the inspiring story of a woman who fought the tide of violence against trans women (available on Netflix) 
  • Sister Outsider, a collection of essays and speeches by Audre Lorde on sexism and homophobia 
  • Making Gay History, a podcast that highlights the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement through conversations with people who witnessed history as it happened   
  • Pose, an FX original drama that spotlights the legends and icons of New York’s underground ball culture  
  • Moonlight, a 2016 Hulu original coming-of-age drama that follows the story of a young Black man grappling with his identity and sexuality  
  • The Color Purple, a Pulitzer Prize-awarded work of fiction by Alice Walker, which depicts the lives of Black women in the early 20th century rural south
  • QueerAF, an award-winning, one-of-a-kind podcast that features inspiring LGBTQ+ stories.

Kierra Turnbull is an assistant account executive in the Allison+Partners Chicago office. She assists in the agency’s DEI efforts and is a member of A+P’s Volunteer Committee and the Multicultural 365 practice group. Kierra is passionate about supporting the youth through communications and marketing. She specializes in social media trends, especially trends related to Gen Z, millennials, and the Black American consumer market. 

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