Looking back at 50 years of Pride festivals
The United States is preparing to observe the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, an event that marked a turning point for gay rights and gay liberation in America. Since Stonewall, members of the LGBTQ+ community have commemorated the movement through Pride Month, with festivals occurring all over the country and across the world.
Stonewall refers to the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in downtown Manhattan whose community was wrought by constant police raids stemming from governmental and police discrimination. The morning of June 28, 1969, marked the beginning of this chapter in the gay-liberation movement, with a riot resulting in a lengthy clash between community members and bar patrons against the police.
Fifty years later, the state of New York is planning to hold the largest LGBTQ+ pride celebration in global history. In preparation for this monumental and historical observance, Stacker has sought photos from the past 50 years of pride festivals. This will form a sort of chronology of pride, going all the way back to the Stonewall riots that originated the movement.
These photos represent not only American pride movements but international pride festivals and causes as well. Other than New York City, these pictures also capture moments in San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Hong Kong, Madrid, and more. Each comes with its own unique story, as societal norms evolve, regulations pass, and new generations change hands.
Each slide will give context to the photo and provide further relevant information about any events that occurred to pride in that year.
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1969: New York City Stonewall riots
The birth of Pride Month came not from a festival, but an uprising and a yearning for justice. In an age dominated by paranoia and McCarthyism, gay community members, particularly those in the Stonewall Inn at NYC, found themselves subject to numerous police raids. One such raid resulted in a riot from community members, led by Black transgender activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, with the event immortalized in the pride festivals that came in the years to come.
1970: NYC Christopher Street Liberation Day (CSLD) March
One year after the Stonewall riots, activists organized the Christopher Street Liberation Day (CSLD) March to observe the anniversary. The tone was more of a celebration, with some calling it a “parade” more than a march. Still, CSLD was marked with a more-somber tone given its origins.
The gay liberation movement was prominent in London, though the city's first official UK Gay Pride Rally didn't take place until 1972. Despite being across the Atlantic, the official Pride event was held specifically to commemorate the Stonewall riots, with the first rally taking place on the closest Saturday to the anniversary.
1975: New York City
By the year 1975, the NYC-based Gay Liberation Front that formed immediately after Stonewall disbanded. This, of course, didn't stop the pride festivities in the city. In 1975, the march for the annual parade would cover the area from New York's 4th Street to 59th Street.
Gay-pride demonstrations in London had something more to fight for in the year 1977. Social conservative Mary Whitehouse had brought a case for libel against the publication Gay News that was eventually ruled in her favor. The march that year was not only a celebration but an opportunity for protest.
The first gay-pride parade in Paris, France, wasn't until 1977, with a famous image having marchers hold up a banner that states “Homosexual Liberation Group, Politics and daily life.” The Paris march celebrated its 40th anniversary in May 2017.
1979: NYC 10th anniversary Stonewall
The year of 1979 was significant for the gay-rights movement, with that year's Pride parade occurring on the 10th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. As part of the festivities, a station wagon carrying members of the original 13 people arrested at the Stonewall Inn was in the parade.
1979: NYC 10th anniversary Stonewall
The 10th anniversary of Stonewall was crowded to a then-unprecedented degree, with crowd estimates ranging from 50,000 to 100,000 people. At one point, the crowd stretched out about 30 blocks, taking up all of Sheep Meadow.
1980: New York City
Despite some strong condemnation of homosexuality from certain religious sects, Catholic priests would sometimes participate in the marches. It is either out of support for tolerance or to “represent a much higher number of priests who did not come.”
1982: New York City
Around 100 groups participated in the 1982 NYC Pride March, amongst them lesbians fighting for visibility. As it usually is in New York City, the march was predictably crowded, with estimates from organizers coming in at 100,000 and estimations of 40,000 by the police.2018 All rights reserved.