June, the month that LGBTQ+ people celebrate their history ✨
As Pride Month approaches, we all feel the subtle excitement of preparing to celebrate the most important month in the LGBTQ+ calendar.
It also kicks off the busy calendar of Pride events happening around the UK during the summer months.
In this article we will explain what Pride Month is, why its important, and share the calendar of 2023 Prides around the UK.
Pride Month is celebrated around the world each year in June. It marks the history of the Stonewall Riots in June 1969, which sparked the beginning of the gay rights movement. It is the most important celebration in the annual LGTBQ+ calendar.
Different to the Pride events held in cities and towns around the world, Pride Month is a month-long celebration to observe our most important history.
Because it is a month-long observance, there is no defined way for LGBTQ+ people, allies, or organisations to honour Pride Month.
With larger companies, we see a display of content on websites and social media, and a usual merchandise haul put out for sale. And these things help, but often the grass-roots initiatives are the most authentic – instead of trying to make money from Pride Month, it should be used to reflect on one’s support of LGBTQ+ people and the current climate of increasing hate crime LGBTQ+ people are experiencing across the UK.
Pride Month begins on June 1st and is celebrated for the whole month of June.
It doesn’t need to be celebrated every day of the month, but instead seen as a period of reflection, to honour our history of the Stonewall Riots, while considering the deteriorating state of LGBTQ+ rights and safety within the UK and around the world.
It is held in June to honour the Stonewall Riots; the beginning of the change of gay rights around the world.
On 28 June 1969 in New York City, the New York City Police raided the Stonewall Inn, the now world-renowned gay pub in Greenwich Village, New York.
Having spent years being vilified by the police, public, and damaging bills that forced the closure of gay bars, or bars which chose to serve gay people, the raid on the Stonewall Inn was the final straw for LGBTQ+ New Yorkers.
As trans women and drag queens were led to toilets to have their birth sex verified by female officers, and gay men and women were pushed around, arrested, and handled aggressively, onlookers and neighbours grew agitated with the violence unfolding.
With a lesbian woman being hit over the head by an officer, she screamed for onlookers to take action, and so the Stonewall Riots began. It became five days of riots throughout the neighbourhood, sometimes involving thousands of people.
It is widely speculated that Marsha P. Johnsons (RIP), born as Malcolm Michaels Jr and self-proclaimed drag queen, along with Zazu Nova and Jackie Hormona, were key people in the push back to the police, with Marsha throwing an item that led to the ensuing chaos. Marsha denies this claim, but eyewitnesses from the evening report differently in the book Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution by David Carter.
Although riots had been happening prior to the uprising at the Stonewall Inn, this moment defines the catalyst of change for the gay rights movements in the US and has led to the annual celebration of Pride Month in June.
Marsha’s life was tough, being a black, gay drag queen. She was a sex worker out of necessity, and caught HIV during the AIDS pandemic.
During the 80’s, she would sit with those in hospital dying of AIDS, and support AIDS activists on the streets of New York.
In 1992, anti-LGBT hate crimes increased exponentially, also known as ‘gay-bashing’, including an increase of attacks by the police. It led to further marches which Marsha attended.
Marsha died in 1992 when her body was found floating in the Hudson River only weeks following the marches. The police did not determine the cause of death and closed the case ruling it as suicide.
Her friends and family insist that Marsha was not suicidal, would have left a note if she was, and claimed there was an unexplained wound on the back of her head.
Activists fought to get the case reopened and in 2012 succeeded, although her cause of death was only changed to ‘undetermined’.
In her honour, The Marsha P. Johnson Institute (MPJI) was set up to protect and defend the human rights of BLACK transgender people. They do this by organising, advocating, creating an intentional community to heal, developing transformative leadership, and promoting their collective power.
To support MPJI, Carissa Estelle launched the Marsha P Johnson goal setting journal, with a percentage of all sales going to MPJI – we love it 💛
Although Pride Month is a long-month observance during June, a city or town’s Pride event serves a different purpose. In order to understand this, its important to first understand that ‘new’ Pride events are celebrations – these are the small Pride events we see cropping up year on year and represent community celebrations as LGBTQ+ inclusivity has increased.
However, original Pride events were a stand for the basic human rights, respect, and equality that LGBTQ+ sought globally.
Prides were a protest.
When the first gay pride march took place in London on 1 July 1972, it was a result of the gay rights movements coming out of America. LGBTQ+ Londoners wanted to fight back.
Manchester Pride has a gentler beginning in that it was truly a celebration of LGBTQ+ joy beginning in 1980, with fundraising and sports day events happening each August bank holiday weekend outside the Rembrandt Hotel, the first Manchester gay pub. In 1985, it was awarded a £1,700 grant by Manchester City Council to make the event a two-week long celebration.
However, when the Tory government brought Section-28 into force in 1988, Manchester Pride became a protest. Over 20,000 people took to the streets of the city, being one of the largest LGBTQ+ protests across the UK.
Today Manchester Pride is one of the largest and most famous Pride events around the world, alongside London, Sydney, and New York.
These larger Pride events are therefore rooted in rich history of LGBTQ+ people’s fight for freedom to live happy, fulfilling lives.
However, the new Prides we see growing each year are celebrations of LGBTQ+ joy, organised by local LGBTQ+ people with their town and city councillors. They do this to continue celebrating LGBTQ+ joy, and to also increase LGBTQ+ inclusivity, and so in that sense, all Prides still remain a protest.
Pride events can be incredibly fun; often family events, messy parties, and they can be the most important celebration LGBTQ+ experience each year. But it is always important to remember the roots of Pride and honour the lives and history that has led to the celebrations we get to experience today.
The three largest Prides in the UK continue to be Brighton, Manchester, and London Pride.
Each has their own style and way in which they celebrate Pride.
Below are estimated numbers of visitors to each Pride, however the events draw higher numbers are people often visit for parts of the Pride celebrations; for instance, the London Pride parade is known for drawing in around 1.5 million visitors to the city.
Below is a list of UK Prides, 2023.
This list is not exhaustive as new Prides are launched every year.
If you want to add your local Pride to this list, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
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