June is Pride Month, when the world’s LGBTQ communities come together and celebrate the freedom to be themselves.

Pride Month commemorates years of struggle for civil rights and the ongoing pursuit of equal justice under the law for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community, as well as the accomplishments of LGBTQ individuals.

How did it start?
 In the early hours of June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village, and began hauling customers outside. Tensions quickly escalated as patrons resisted arrest and a growing crowd of bystanders threw bottles and coins at the officers. New York’s gay community, fed up after years of harassment by authorities, broke out in neighborhood riots that went on for three days.
The uprising became a catalyst for an emerging gay rights movement as organizations such as the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance were formed, modeled after the civil rights movement and the women’s rights movement. Members held protests, met with political leaders and interrupted public meetings to hold those leaders accountable. A year after the Stonewall riots, the nation’s first Gay Pride marches were held.
In 2016 the area around the Stonewall Inn, still a popular nightspot today, was designated a national monument.

Where did the Pride name come from?

It’s largely credited to Brenda Howard, a bisexual New York activist nicknamed the “Mother of Pride,” who organized the first Pride parade to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall uprising.

What’s the origin of the rainbow flag?

In 1978, artist and designer Gilbert Baker was commissioned by San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk — one of the first openly gay elected officials in the US — to make a flag for the city’s upcoming Pride celebrations.
Baker, a prominent gay rights activist, gave a nod to the stripes of the American flag but drew inspiration from the rainbow to reflect the many groups within the gay community.
A subset of flags represent other sexualities on the spectrum, such as bisexual, pansexual and asexual.

Can I participate in Pride events if I’m not LGBTQ?
Sure. Pride events welcome allies from outside the LGBTQ community. They are opportunities to show support, to observe, listen and be educated. 

Ayana Archie and Brandon Griggs (2022, June 1) It’s Pride Month. Here’s what you need to know. CNN
Coming Out Is a Journey

Pat (left) and Paulette (right) Martin
Photo by The Martins

I first knew I was a lesbian at the age of five, and came out to my family and mother at my high school graduation. I always knew exactly who I was; it was my mother who was confused. She said my actions were not normal, even going to the extreme and taking me to a psychiatrist. My mother’s homophobia was one of the reasons I waited to come out. Every time my mother would see a gay woman, she would say, “if one of my children becomes like that, I’ll kill them.” During my high school graduation, I walked across the stage in a dress to get my diploma. Afterward, I went into the bathroom and changed into a suit. When my mother saw me, she said, “What the hell is this?” I responded, “This is me.” I got my girlfriend and left, and never looked back. Now, I’ve been out for more than 50 years. In 2015, I met my now-wife Paulette at an event hosted by SAGE — an organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT elders — and got married in 2018 at the age of 67. We both continue to advocate for rights for the LGBT+ community, especially for elders. —Pat MartinUnlike my wife, Pat, I didn’t come out until I was 40 when my youngest child was 16. Growing up, I thought if I got married and had a baby, I wouldn’t have to tell my mother that I was gay and could be normal. However, pretending I was something that I was not for all those years to avoid the punishment of social and familial shame did not make me feel normal at all. In reality, I felt suffocated and trapped. I took out all of my repressed frustrations on others, including members of the LGBT+ community. After I got divorced from my husband, I realized I wanted to start living as my authentic self. While the seismic shift caused friction in my family relationships, the burden of living a lie was gone. But I still faced numerous challenges along the way, including discrimination and racism for simply being myself. Later in life, having just moved from Long Island to East Harlem, I fell head over heels for Pat. The romantic spark was real. We were married on April 10, 2018, at the age of 67. Today, we reside in East Harlem — an area of New York once notorious for being hostile to those in the LGBT+ community — and walk hand-in-hand through the neighborhoods as our authentic selves. —Paulette Martin

Lizz Schumer (2021, June 29). Coming Out Is a Journey: 20 LGBTQ+ People Share Their Stories, Good Housekeeping.