Why do we celebrate Pride in June? It's actually an easier question to answer than one might think, and it's all thanks to Judy Garland! You see, back in the day when being yourself in public wasn't fully accepted, our Sugar Daddies had to dance underground. They weren't taking over entire neighborhoods like Hell's Kitchen and Astoria as they do today. They were able to be themselves, but in private. And even then, the police would raid these bars and dance clubs as if it were their "job" to do so.
Until the day that Judy Garland died. It was the early morning hours of June 28th, 1969, in New York City, and the cops raided the now-historic landmark (Thanks, President Obama!), The Stonewall Inn. But our ancestors weren't having it that night. After all, their Queen had just died! So, instead, they decided to fight back! Those drag queens and bears of that generation were the Rosa Parks of the gay movement. Ever since that day in late June, cities all over the world now celebrate and honor those who started said movement—a movement that may never end...
In recent years, many people have begun to think of Pride marches as one giant party. The Pride Parade itself seems to last all day long, particularly in the city that never sleeps. And rightly so! Some members of the LGBTQI community even attend all weekends of Pride in Boston, San Francisco, D.C., New York, and more. But Pride is more than that. To this day, the Pride Parade in New York City continues to march past The Stonewell Inn—the very spot where our community first stood up for themselves.
Since I moved to New York City, I do my very best to march in this parade every year. In years passed, I've marched with Glaad, SAG/AFTRA, and many other communities who all march for the same reason: to show their pride. But no matter who I march with, my words cannot express the feelings that sweep over me every year when I pass by The Stonewell Inn. The crowd is cheering you on with thunderous applause, but the entire street still feels as quiet as if you could hear a pin drop. It’s as if our ancestors are saying, “Hello.”
That’s why I march every year. I march as a continued reminder that even though I have the right to marry in the state and country I live in, many people around the world still do not have that right. I march to feel grateful for the fact that I can hold my husband’s hand walking down the street and not be called gay slurs, which unfortunately continues to happen in certain areas of even this great nation. I march because there is still more work to be done. For our transgender friends. For LGBT victims of hate crimes. For our community. I march not for myself, but for those who marched before me and for those who will continue to march after me.
And so, I leave you with a promise: I will continue to march and celebrate for many Prides to come, but I will now learn to appreciate why I am allowed to appreciate myself.
June is for my Pride.
October is for my heritage…
To the larger family I never expected,
Happy History Month!