Hundreds of cities worldwide have created their own Pride Parades, including in a few countries, like Pakistan, where same-sex sexual contact is still illegal. The practice was picked up again by Barack Obama, who declared June LGBT Pride Month all eight years of his administration.
On June 11, 1999, President Bill Clinton issued the first-ever proclamation declaring June to be Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. On June 24, 2016, President Barack Obama also established a 7.7-acre area around the re-opened Stonewall Inn as the Stonewall National Movement, turning the site that sparked a worldwide movement into the first LGBT national park site in the United States.
While crowd estimates vary widely from 1,000 to 20,000, one thing remained clear—there had never been a demonstration like this before.
Chicago actually took to the streets in 1970 the day before New York.
(Credit: Spencer Grant/Getty Images) The Stonewall Riots, as they became known, made one thing clear—the LGBT movement needed to be louder and more visible.
Nothing was going to change if they continued their passive, non-threatening tactics. Five months after the riots, activists Craig Rodwell, his partner Fred Sargeant, Ellen Brody and Linda Rhodes proposed a resolution at the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations (ERCHO) in Philadelphia that a march be held in New York City to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the raid.
Ten police officers barricaded themselves inside the Stonewall. The fire department and Tactical Police Force were called in.
It was also Howard’s idea to turn the festivities into a week-long celebration, something many cities continue to do to this day. Craig Schoonmaker was part of the Christopher Street Liberation Day March planning committee.
When they were looking for a slogan for the event, it was Schoonmaker that suggested “Pride.” The idea of “Gay Power” was thrown around, but Schoonmaker said gay individuals lacked real power to make change, but one thing they did have was pride.
The march was 51 blocks long from west of Sixth Avenue at Waverly Place, in Greenwich Village, all the way to Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park, where activists held a “Gay-in.” Borrowing a technique that had been popularized by the Civil Rights Movement, the “Gay-in” was both a protest and a celebration.
The front page of The New York Times ran with the headline, “Thousands of Homosexuals Hold A Protest Rally in Central Park.” There were no floats, no music blasting through the streets, no scantily clad dancers: this was a political statement and a test—what would happen when LGBT citizens became more visible?
In 1966, the Stonewall Inn opened and soon became known as a place where everyone, regardless of identity or sexual orientation, was allowed to be themselves and dance.