The End of Pride Month Doesn’t Mean the End of Pride

As Pride month ends, it is worth taking a moment to acknowledge and honor the celebrations that have concluded, as well as the continued recognition of the queer community.

What is Pride?

June is LGBTQ Pride month, a commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City. Symbols often include many flags. The rainbow flag with six colors was created by Gilbert Baker in 1978 in San Francisco. Baker imbued each of the colors with meaning: “hot pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit”.

The pink, blue, and white transgender flag was designed by Monica Helmes in 1999. Helmes described the inspiration for the flag as incorporating the traditional blue and pink colors for baby boys and girls. The middle white stripe is meant to represent those are who are intersex, neutral, or undefined. An important design of the flag is that it can be flown either way, reiterating the idea of correctness that trans people are valid in whatever orientation they choose.

Other prominent flags include the “Progress Pride” flag, designed by Daniel Quasar, which incorporates pink, blue, and white to represent trans individuals, brown and black for POC communities, and those lost to HIV/AIDS.

What were the Stonewall Riots?

The Stonewall Riots occurred in June 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in New York City. They were sparked by a police raid that arrested people for violating rules such as the state’s gender-appropriate clothing statute. Tensions flared when a police officer hit a lesbian woman on the head as he put her in a patrol car. Although raids were common, this event rapidly spiraled into a full-blown riot. A crowd that had gathered outside the bar threw items and jeered at police, started a fire to try and break a police barricade of the bar, and more.

One year later, thousands commemorated the riots by marching from Stonewall’s location on Christopher Street in the West Village to Central Park. The event, called the “Christopher Street Liberation Day”, would later become recognized as America’s first gay pride parade. The event is also remembered for its involvement of many gay rights icons, such as Marsha P. Johnson.

In 2016, President Obama designated the site of the riots—Stonewall Inn, Christopher Park, and the surrounding streets and sidewalks—a national monument in recognition of the area’s contribution to gay rights.

Resources supporting the queer community in Washington

In 2019, the first openly lesbian Senator, Claire Wilson, sponsored Senate Bill 5356, creating the Washington State LGBTQ Commission. This agency contains an advisory board of 15 commissioners who identify as part of the queer community. Each commissioner is appointed by the Governor and serves a three-year term. The Commission also has four legislative advisors from each chamber and caucus in the State Legislature. The Commission’s mission is “to improve the government’s interface with the LGBTQ community, identifying the needs of its members, and ensuring that there is an effective means of advocating for LGBTQ equity in all aspects of state government” (RCW 43.114). 

The Washington State Office of Equity was created by the State Legislature in 2020, and is committed to “making anti-racism, anti-Blackness, and anti-poverty work primary focus areas as we also challenge and seek to undo discrimination against immigrants, the LGBTQIA+ community, people with disabilities, women, and veterans”.

On June 9, 2022, Governor Inslee reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to the community by signing the 2022 LGBTQ Pride Month Proclamation. This document proclaimed June 2022 as “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Asexual, Aromantic, Queer, Two-Spirit, Non-Binary, and Intersex Pride Month”.

The Governor and our public university presidents also participated in putting out this video message to wish everyone a Happy Pride.

Happy Pride!

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