As summer gets well underway, gay pride parades continue to be a popular tradition within the LGBT community and its supporters. These events have become the norm for a number of reasons. They provide a sense of acceptance for those who have been outcast from society purely based on their sexual identity and orientation. The marches also help to create a buzz around important LGBT social and political causes while providing nondenominational organizations with a chance to show support for the community while creating awareness for themselves. Additionally, pride parades in 2014 will be honoring the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
Stonewall Inn was a popular hangout of homosexuals located in the Greenwich Village area of New York City. On June 28, 1969, patrons of the bar were engaged in a physical altercation with police officers when they raided the venue. Customers were escorted to the restroom by female officers to have their sex verified, and police began arresting any men who were dressed as women. Shortly thereafter, the patrons of the Stonewall Inn began refusing to present any identification, and the police decided to take everyone down to the station for processing. The patrol wagons called to haul away bootlegged alcohol from the premises took some time in arriving, and a few individuals were released from the bar after the police managed to sort through those present to find the cross-dressers. Rather than vacating the area, they began to loiter outside the bar and a crowd of onlookers quickly began to grow. The officers tried to disperse the gatherers, but the situation rapidly took a violent turn and exploded into an all-out brawl. The riots lasted nearly a week.
The first gay pride parade occurred in June of 1970, almost one year after the uprising. Celebrations are in high swing this year as pride parades all over the country are honoring the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. The march in New York made its way through Greenwich Village to pass Stonewall Inn in order to commemorate the rebellion which helped instigate the gay rights movement.
Corporations are taking advantage of the situation and becoming more invested than ever before in pride parades. More and more companies are beginning to realize sponsoring LGBT events garners more attention for their brand, and the benefits of doing so far outweigh the risks of openly showing support for the community. A study conducted by Witeck-Combs Communications, a marketing firm which specializes in the gay marketplace, found the US homosexual population had a purchasing power of $830 billion last year.
While pride parades are a cause for celebration for many,activists continue to stress the opinion that it is important to remember why they are even necessary in the first place. American culture has indoctrinated its citizens with the belief that it is unacceptable to be different. People are afraid of what they do not understand, and homosexuals provide easy targets for a society which has ingrained many straight Caucasians with a superiority complex. Being gay is not an issue of race, but both gays and African-Americans have to fight against public shaming. Many people in the LGBT community have even been rejected by their families and forced onto the streets to fend for themselves. It is for these reasons homosexuals proudly declare their pride in their identity. As pride parades commence this year in honor of the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, perhaps the absence of straight marches serves to illustrate a fundamental point about the way privileged individuals inject toxic shame into the lives of others.
Opinion By Sam Williams
Suggested Article: GLV