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The Chronicles of Pride

Article by: Kandhalvi M. Asaali and Crismhil S. Anselmo

Graphics by: Andrea Nicole R. Villasanta and Cristelle S. Corpuz

The month of June commemorates Pride, a time for members and allies of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community to proudly raise the rainbow flag and become truly visible. Amidst the loud partying, explosion of glitters and bright colors, and the liberation of love and sexuality, it is important to know that Pride is not merely a celebration but also a revolution. One with love and freedom, The New Builder narrates the historic events that led Pride to the rainbow fest that it is today.

Annual Reminders

One of the earliest gay rights movement can be traced back to the peaceful protests lead by Craig Rodwell, an American queer activist. Referred to as “Annual Reminders,” Rodwell along with other LGBTQ+ groups then marched at the Independence Hall in Philadelphia in the form of pickets every July 4 from 1965 to 1969. The main objective of the events was to establish the visibility of the community and to remind the public that they were deprived of basic civil rights.

Activists who organized these marches such as New York City and Washington D.C. members of the Mattachine Society, Philadelphia's Janus Society, and the Daughters of Bilitis, implemented a strict dress code on attendees to foster acceptance and establish that the gay community was presentable and employable. Wearing suits and formal attires, the event was restrictive of gender expression and contradicted the core of its fight.

In 1969, the final Annual Reminder march was met with renewed vigor. Coinciding with the historic Stonewall riots that occurred less than a week prior, a tense atmosphere befell the gay community that set the fight for rights ablaze.

The Stonewall Uprising

The Stonewall Inn, for which the historic uprising was named after, was the forebear of Pride. Located at Christopher Street in Manhattan, the bar served as a haven for homeless gay youths, drag queens, and other social outcasts amidst police raids and homophobic laws at the time.

In the wee hours of June 28, 1969, the arrest of bargoers, the public uproar against police brutality and discrimination, and the hitting of a lesbian woman increased tension in the area. Eventually, it escalated into a full-blown riot that went on for six days.

The violent clash with law enforcers made one thing clear: The calls for reforms and gay rights need to be louder to be heard. Less than a week since the riots, the final Annual Reminder march was held on July 4 of the same year. As an act of defiance, many attendees did not follow the established dress code of the picket and became more expressive with their identities, asserting their truth, and bolstering their visibility.

Birth of Pride

With the conclusion of the last reminder march, four gay activists including Craig Rodwell, Fred Sargeant, Linda Rhodes, and Ellen Broidy proposed to replace the staid ‘annual reminders’ of homophile protests with a more celebrating, vibrant march in New York City that would commemorate the momentous six-day riot in Manhattan.

Following the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the historic first gay pride parade known as the “Christopher Street Liberation Day” or CSLD happened on June 28, 1970. This day became the historical landmark of the modern-day festive, flamboyant, and glittery annual celebration of Pride Month – celebrating social and self-acceptance, achievements, legal rights, and pride of the LGBTQ+ community.

Started merely as pickets and protests on streets, the Stonewall Riots and the CSLD rippled its impacts and became the sparks that ignited many LGBTQ-right movements across the globe and encouraged members to come out of the closet and be loud and proud.

Legacy of Pride

While the previous events were more about the gay rights activism in the United States of America (USA), these still served as an essential driving force to catalyze similar revolutionary movements all over the world.

For instance, in the Philippines, the Progressive Organization of Gays and Metropolitan Community Church led the first LGBTQ+ Pride March in Asia during the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots on June 26, 1994.

Years later, many LGBTQ-right movements and organizations in the Philippines emerged and collaborated to organize and produce yearly marches. In 1999, the Task Force Pride Philippines (TFP), a network of members, ally groups, and individuals of the LGBTQ+ community in the country, was formed. Continuously seeking to promote positive visibility and fighting for freedom, TFP has been holding the annual Metro Manila Pride March.

In 2018 and 2019, the Philippines made history as the country that held the largest Pride celebration in Southeast Asia despite being the most Catholic nation in the region. Every year, the Filipino LGBTQ+ community never fails to paint the streets of Metro Manila with rainbow colors – splashed across shirts, cheeks, and hairs – and keep the fighting spirit of Pride with the festive energy of marchers donned in full gear with their rainbow-colored flags.

Indeed, the history of Pride shows that its core has been and should always be political. While it is surely a time to celebrate freedom of love and identity, it is important to highlight that it is not a mere festival but a showcase of visibility and a fight for rights. The outlandish and loud partying that has become the beacon of Pride is a means of dismantling the status quo, validating all genders, and fighting for love regardless of sex and gender.

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