Monday, June 22, 2020
Happy PRIDE month!
On June 28, 1969, the first major demonstrations by members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community took place in New York City’s Greenwich Village as a result of an unwarranted police raid. Known as the Stonewall Riots, the protests signified a turning point in the gay community. One year later, in June of 1970, demonstrations took place in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco as a reminder that the march towards equality would continue. These demonstrations expanded to cities across the country as the calls for equality from gay citizens, and their allies rang louder and louder.
“The idea that LGBTQ+ people would march through the streets of New York City, proudly declaring their existence, their pride and their love was truly revolutionary back then. “It took a new sense of audacity and courage to take that giant step into the streets of Midtown Manhattan,” as Fred Sargeant, one of the organizers of the first march recalled.
At the time, the largest LGBTQ+ rights rally was a yearly silent vigil called “The Annual Reminder” held in Philadelphia. This event was a somber and tightly orchestrated affair. It was usually “a small, polite group of gays and lesbians [who would picket] outside Liberty Hall,” Sargeant describes. “The walk would occur in silence. Required dress on men was jackets and ties; for women, only dresses. We were supposed to be unthreatening.” The event was put on by a gay men’s rights group called the Mattachine Society, one of the earliest LGBTQ+ rights groups in the United States (it formed in 1950). Craig Rodwell was the Mattachine Society member who originally came up with the idea for The Annual Reminder. Their first Annual Reminder was held in 1965. It was intended to “remind the American people that a substantial number of American citizens were denied the rights of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,'” according to Philadelphia LGBTQ+ rights organization Philly Pride.
Five months after Stonewall, Sargeant, Rodwell, and activists Ellen Brody and Linda Rhodes attended the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations (ERCHO) in Philadelphia. They proposed a resolution: an annual march is held on the last Sunday in New York City in June to commemorate Stonewall. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago planned concurrent marches, forming what we now know as the annual LGBTQ+ PRIDE march.
APFA celebrates with our LGBTQ+ sisters and brothers. Let your flag fly freely.
APFA PHL Base President
APFA PHL Base Vice President