In 2023, Pride Month means summer is here—stores fill up with rainbow merch and you might celebrate with some drag queens or throw confetti at a local parade. But the month isn’t about rainbow capitalism, it's about liberation, an active fight for people in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities. We use the acronym LGBTQ+ at Green America, adding the + to symbolize the many identities, such as intersex or asexual, not all named under LGBT, that fall under the queer umbrella.
LGBTQ+ people have always existed, but in American culture, those identities were not just unaccepted but criminalized throughout history. There was a turning point in June 1969, when patrons, led by transgender women of color, at the New York City gay bar The Stonewall Inn fought back when police attacked them during a routine raid of gay bars. Protests where activists demanded the right to live openly popped up in New York and around the country. The first pride marches took place during the anniversary of the riots, in June 1970, in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. In 2015, the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. Stonewall was named a national monument in 2016, and for the 50th anniversary of the riot in 2019, five million LGBTQ+ people and allies marched in New York. Finally, the city’s police commissioner gave a formal apology for police actions that night in 1969.
Now, Pride is celebrated in cities across the country and the world during different months of the year, besides June, which was first named Pride Month nationally by President Clinton in 1999. The community recognizes those who paved the way for living proudly and openly, such as Marsha P. Johnson, a drag queen and founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, who was one of the prominent figures of the activism following Stonewall. Also recognized in these events are the leaders and members of each LGBTQ+ community, who come from all different backgrounds and identities.
Today, though being LGBTQ+ and out is more common and accepted than ever, anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is on the rise, which comes alongside homophobic and transphobic individuals with large public platforms. The American Civil Liberties Union is tracking 490 anti-LGBT+ laws in the 2023 legislative session alone, which disproportionally target transgender people and LGBTQ+ youth. Trans people and LGBTQ+ youth are also likely to face hate, bullying, and violence in their lives if they are not accepted by their families and communities. According to The Trevor Project, “LGBTQ youth are not inherently prone to suicide risk because of their sexual orientation or gender identity but rather placed at higher risk because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized in society.” The Trevor Project provides free and immediate crisis counseling by chat, phone, or text for LGBTQ+ young people (and will not turn people away due to age). The Trans Lifeline is run by and for trans people and provides peer support, even for people who are not in crisis or not sure they are trans.
As with all heritage months, we celebrate our differences, acknowledge historical victories and setbacks, and fight for justice for people who may be of different backgrounds than oneself. This month brings us together to remember, honor, and be inspired by LGBTQ+ pride and history as well as the countless individuals of those backgrounds who have made tremendous contributions to our country. We also highlight the continued fight for equality.
To help enhance your celebration with content you can use all year long, Green America is pleased to share Pride resources that highlight accomplishments and the justice still needed in society, the economy, and the environment. We do this as a reflection of our vision: “to work for a world where all people have enough, where all communities are healthy and safe, and where the abundance of the Earth is preserved for all the generations to come.”
Together, let’s celebrate and recommit ourselves to building a just society.
Search “Pride” and your city or state to find celebrations and ways to volunteer near you