“Gay Pride was not born of a need to celebrate being gay, but our right to exist without persecution. So instead of wondering why there isn’t a Straight Pride movement, be thankful you don’t need one.”- STOP-Homophobia.com
The first official UK Gay Pride Rally was held in London on 1 July 1972. This date marked the anniversary of the Stonewall riots of 1969, when there were violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, Greenwich Village, USA. The aim of the march was to increase the visibility of the gay community, which at the time was a radical concept.
The Gay Liberation Front, founded in October 1970, supported the first Pride march and attendee activist Peter Tatchell recalls that many of his friends were too frightened to attend:
“We got mixed reactions from the public – some hostility but predominantly curiosity and bewilderment. Most had never knowingly seen a gay person, let alone hundreds of queers marching to demand human rights.”
Members of the Guildford Area Gay Society attended the early marches and recalled the abuse which they received and heavy handling by Police.
Today, Pride is global and both political and celebratory. There are five main UK Pride events: London, Brighton, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham – the cities with the biggest gay populations.
Pride London is now one of the biggest in Europe. London also hosts Black Pride and Soho Pride events. 2012 saw World Pride coming to London.
The Rainbow flag
Colour has played an important role in LGBT history. In Victorian times, the colour green was associated with homosexuality and purple (or, more accurately, lavender) was later used by the LGBT community for ‘Purple Power’.
A pink triangle was first used by the Nazis to identify gay males in Nazi concentration camps, and a black triangle was similarly used to identify lesbians and others deemed ‘asocial’. These symbols were reclaimed by the LGBT community in the early 1980s to signify strength of spirit and their survival of oppression.
The iconic Rainbow flag was designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker, an American artist, as a symbol for the LGBT community. Baker’s design has changed a little but is essentially the six-striped version we see today.
The colours represent hope, diversity and LGBT pride – pride at having not only survived, but thrived in an often hostile world; and pride in being an individual and standing up for LGBT rights.
(Text courtesy of STOP-Homophobia.com http://www.stop-homophobia.com/)