How June Became Pride Month

by Errol Raymond

Pride Month honors the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community’s years of fighting for civil rights and the continued pursuit of equal justice under the law, as well as the accomplishments of LGBTQ individuals. But why is June the Month of Pride celebration?

The month became associated with Pride in commemoration of the Stonewall riots, which occurred on June 28, 1969. On that day, authorities raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, a famous hangout for many in the queer community. The event propelled the LGBT rights movement and gave it steam moving into the late 1990’s. In 1999, President Bill Clinton declared June to be “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.” In June 2009, President Barack Obama expanded awareness by declaring June to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, honoring LGBTQ+ Americans’ contributions as well as larger issues such as the HIV pandemic.

Why is it important to recognize Pride in the fight to end sexual assault? Because folks from this community are disproportionately affected by sexual violence. According to stats from the NSVRC, we can see how disproportionate the effects are.

Sexual Assault and Harassment
Forty-four percent of lesbian women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime, while 26% of gay men have as well (that number increases to 37% for bisexual men). Bisexual women, trans women, and women of color experience higher risks. 70% of LGBTQIA+ members of the community have been sexually harassed at work, and 66% were afraid to tell their employer for fear of being outed.

Transgender students are at higher risk; 21% of TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, nonconforming) college students have been sexually assaulted, compared to 18% of non-TGQN females, and 4% of non-TGQN males. (RAINN) Recent statistics showcase a long standing trend — LGBT people are still four times more likely to experience violence in their life than their straight counterparts. FBI data from 2019 illustrates a rise in anti-LGBTQIA+ hate crimes, including higher rates of police brutality. LGBTQIA+ people frequently face threats, harassment, and violence online, and regularly see comments that deny their humanity and right to exist.

People of color face discrimination from within the LGBTQIA+ community. Narratives and positions of power are often monopolized by white middle and upper class members of the community, resulting in discrimination in representation. LGBTQIA+ people of color face heightened bigotry at the intersection of their race and their queerness by society at large.

Below are links with true stories of the malevolent treatment some have experienced:

Hannah’s Story

Jerome’s Story

Val’s Story

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