The History of Pride

· Organized gay rights protests were started by LGBTQ activists in the 1920s.

· Prior to 1969, police raids on the patrons of bars across the United State were at the common. A man could be arrested for wearing drag, and a woman could be arrested for “wearing less than three pieces of feminine clothing.”

On June 28th, 1969, eight officers from New York City’s Public Morals Division raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. Marsha P. Johnson cried out “I got my civil rights!” and threw a shot glass into a mirror in protest. The two hundred patrons of the Stonewall Inn were joined by patrons from surrounding bars, and hundreds were arrested. Rioters broke windows, set cars on fire, and injured three police officers. The police ended up barricading themselves inside the Stonewall Inn for safety.

New York City’s Tactical Patrol Force was called in, but were eventually run out of the neighborhood by the rioters. Word got out about the riots, and thousands returned the next night to continue the protest, which lasted six days.

In 1970, a committee was formed to commemorate the riots. During one of their meetings, committee member L. Craig Schoonmaker suggested the phrase “gay pride” as the slogan for the celebration.

The Stonewall Inn was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999, and was made a landmark by New York City in 2015.

· Historically, Pride celebrations have included an activism component centering on gay rights, HIV/Aids, violence against the community, and marriage equality

In the 1990’s, Black Pride parades started in conjunction with other Pride month events.The first official celebration was held at the Club House, a popular black gay bar in Washington, D.C.,In 1991

June is now unofficially recognized within the community as Pride Month. President Obama issued a national proclamation that declared June 2016 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.

The First Rainbow Flag

The first rainbow flag became the symbol of gay pride in 1978. Before then, the traditional LGBTQ community flag was a pink triangle. This image was used during Nazi Germany to mark “sexual deviants” in concentration camps, and many felt after World War II that this symbol was appropriate.

Artist Gilbert Baker created the first rainbow flag for a San Francisco march, organized by Harvey Milk. Baker’s version had eight stripes—hot pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, indigo and violet. Today, rainbow flags have only six stripes.

Indianapolis Pride—The Early Years

In 1981, the first private Pride event in Indianapolis was a dinner at the Essex House Hotel. Many attendees wore masks so as not to be recognized. The event was held by a group named Justice, Inc., who would go on to host a variety of indoor banquets, brunches and events. Indianapolis’ first official Pride celebration was held in 1987 at Riley’s Pub, 650 N. Alabama Street.

The first ‘out and visible’ public Pride celebration was a festival held at the Indianapolis Sports Center on June 26, 1988. It included a yard sale, church services, and a roller-skating party.

Visit Indy Pride at indypride.org


Created with images by Emily Webster - "untitled image" • laury jaugey - "I was working for the gay press at the time." • Karl Bewick - "untitled image" • Brian Kyed - "untitled image" • Brian Kyed - "untitled image" • Toni Reed - "Pride Day in Calgary, Alberta Canada 2016" • Jasmin Sessler - "untitled image" • Toni Reed - "Pride Parade in Calgary, Alberta Canada 2018" • Sharon McCutcheon - "Portrait of a person holding a rainbow flag." Text by Donna Tressler