In June 1969 a series of riots erupted in Manhattan, New York. Often called the Stonewall Riots, this event occurred after police attempted to raid the Stonewall Inn, a known gay and lesbian meeting place. Police raids on gay and lesbian bars and restaurants were common in the 1960’s, and often the customers of these establishments were arrested and publicly ‘outed’ in newspapers leading to consequences such as loss of jobs and family. Police often kept lists of known gay and lesbian establishments and frequent raids would often result in these places being shut down permanently.
Today, because of this event, June is considered Pride Month in commemoration of brave lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals who worked tirelessly to reform systems, improve the lives of others and worked for human rights. Often Pride Month is celebrated with parades and events throughout the United States.
Past presidents such as Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and current president Donald Trump have all acknowledged Pride Month. Celebrating Pride Month is simply acknowledging and accepting the contribution of LGBT members of the community and their valued place in our society, and is open to all.
Ways to acknowledge and celebrate Pride Month:
Wave a flag. The pride flag is a horizontal rainbow meant to demonstrate LGBT support and pride. Placing a flag out in your yard, or window, indicates you are an ally and supportive of the LGBT community.
Parade. This year Twin Cities Pride Parade is a virtual event, with online events happening the end of June.
Educate yourself. Watch an LGBT movie such as “Milk,” or a documentary like “For the Bible Tells Me So.” Pick up an LGBT book from the library, such as Jeanette Winterson’s “Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?” or “Being Jazz” by Jazz Jennings.
Get involved. Locally, there is the non-profit East Central Minnesota Pride, which has held events the past 15 years. Additionally, there are local chapters of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) to get involved in.
Donate. The Trevor Project focuses on providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBT youth. You can find out more, and donate at the trevorproject.org. Also, the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy organization, the Human Rights Campaign, accepts donations to work toward advancing LGBT equality. You can find out what they are working on and donate at hrc.org.
Say something. Wish an LGBT member in your life “Happy Pride” and have conversations offering support and acceptance.
Carmen Finn is the clinical director at Recovering Hope Treatment Center in Mora. She has over 18 years of experience providing mental health and substance use disorder treatment to individuals and families.