The history of Pride Month 50 years after the first UK rally

·3-min read
(PA) (PA Archive)
(PA) (PA Archive)

Each year, the entirety of June is dedicated to Pride in many countries of the world, marking a season for celebrating LGBTQ+ identity and raising awareness of the social and political inequalities surrounding sexuality.

After being cancelled for two years due to Covid, Pride events are returning to London this month for the first time since 2019.

This year is especially significant, as 2022 marks 50 years since the first Pride event in the UK.

The first Pride rally took place on July 1, 1972, (as this was the nearest Saturday to the anniversary of the Stonewall riots of June 28, 1969), and although the Pride parade will take place on July 2 this year, June is considered to be Pride month.

Here’s what you need to know about Pride Month, both present and past.

Pride Month 2022

This year’s campaign will commemorate the past 50 years, and Pride in London says it will honour “our evolution as a movement; acknowledging those torch bearers who have come before us and their achievements.

“As we celebrate and look forward to the next 50 years, we’ll recognise the challenges still faced by our community nationally and globally.”

The Pride in London parade will take place on Saturday, July 2, 2022, while events will be hosted across London throughout the summer.

The new faces of LGBTQ+ London: in pictures

History of Pride month and the Stonewall Riots

June is Pride Month because it coincides with the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots.

That year, in the early hours of June 28, eight police officers from the New York “Public Morals Devision” raided the Stonewall Inn— a gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York City.

There was nothing particularly exceptional about this. In the sixties, the NYPD unit enforced all “vice” laws and had the power to arrest and hospitalise gay people by force.

But on this particular night, the bar fought back. Neighbouring revellers were drawn to the scene, hundreds resisted prejudiced arrest, and a mirror was smashed by “the shot glass that was heard around the world”, thrown by Black transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson.

As the eight policemen barricaded themselves inside the Stonewall Inn, protesters took control of the street: that night, and the five that followed.

London Pride 2019 – In pictures

Stonewall did not create a movement; LGBTQ+ activism had taken an organised shape in the 1920s, if not before. But the show of force and numbers, coupled with widespread media coverage, empowered throngs to join the campaign.

On the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots, demonstrations stretched across the United States in a mix of politics and party that elevated a community whose existence had been denied, suppressed and criminalised.

Celebrations have reclaimed the historic influence of LGBTQ+ people across the world, and paved the way for a more equal and diverse future. They have peacefully protested injustices not only facing the LGBTQ+ community, but many other marginalised groups.

And over the past five decades, they have become a placard to articulate specific demands, propelling causes like gay marriage and AIDS awareness.

In the 1980s, “Gay Freedom” became “Gay Pride,” and from 2009 to 2016, President Obama officially declared June the month of LGBT Pride.

Stonewall 50th anniversary - in pictures

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