The colours of the rainbow were on display everywhere last Sunday, June 30, but most predominantly in New York, USA. The Rainbow flag, the symbol of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community was on parade in celebration of 50 years since the 1969 Stonewall Riots, often considered to be the turning of the gay rights movement. Until then, the community faced constant harassment from the authorities, and were mistreated.
It all began at the Stonewall Inn, a bar that was a safe place for gay people to gather, as homosexuality was illegal in the city. On June 28, 1969, police barged into a bar, arrested the management and employees for selling alcohol without a licence, beat up people in the bar and tried to arrest anyone who, as per the law of the time, was not wearing at least three articles of gender-appropriate clothing. These kinds of raids were common, but this time, the community had had enough. Angry, humiliated and outraged at being treated differently, the crowd that gathered outside began to fight the police. The police then set the bar on fire, and for the next five days, rioting continued in the area.
It was from this incident that important organisations like the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) were formed. The community was no longer willing to be silent and demanded the same civil rights as others. The GLF was one of the major participants in the first Pride Day and parade that took place exactly a year after the Stonewall Inn incident in New York City.
Today, there is much more openness and less gender discrimination. Pride Day is a real matter of pride at how far the movement has come. It is now a celebration rather than protest. In 2016 President Obama dedicated a monument to the Stonewall incident which included the Stonewall Inn, Christopher Park, and the surrounding streets in the area.
The day was celebrated with events and parades all across the world and, whatever the weather, rainbows were to seen everywhere!
Written by: Pereena Lamba. Pereena is a freelance writer, editor and creative consultant. She is also co-author of Totally Mumbai.