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The flags are up, the shirts come off; banners, motorcycles, families, music, and pride march down the streets this June in celebration of their LGBT communities. How did these parades come to be? Why now? What was it like before? Stay curious and subscribe to receive more sex edutainment every week with Sexplanations host Dr. Lindsey Doe.
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Director, editor, and videographer: Matthew Gaydos
Producer: Hank Green
Host and writer: Lindsey Doe
Perhaps you've heard of this big event called Pride. There's usually a parade, maybe some speakers and workshops, some communities make a whole rainbow-colored week of it. But do you fully understand why?

*theme song*

June 28th, 1969 Stonewall Inn at 51st through 53rd Christopher St between 4th and Waverly in Manhattan's Greenwich Village was, at the time, a mafia-owned gay bar where the LGBT community could drink and dance as themselves. Kind of.

In 1969, cross-dressing and homosexuality were considered mental illnesses and treated as crimes. Essentially, operating a gay bar was a known business risk, and being at one, whether or not you were LGBTIQQA2KP, etc, was a known patron hazard. Gay bars, including Stonewall Inn, weren't persecution free zones. Cops could come in at any time arrest and humiliate people. It was just at least you could take the chance of being yourself until this happened, unlike everywhere else clubs where you couldn't. 

At around 1:20, 1:30 AM on the 28th, policemen, patrol officers, and a detective entered the scene to quote "take the place". It was a raid. There are lots of speculations about why this particular raid incited a riot; it's human nature to try and understand these things, to pinpoint what caused everything to start changing. We don't know. 

What we do know is that without any planning or discussion, the historic, game changing Stonewall Riots, the quote "single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States", began. Patrons did not show their IDs, those cross-dressing refused police corralling. One queen hit a cop when he pushed her and all this commotion moving into the streets attracted crowds.

Eventually, 500+ people amassed fighting in any way they could against the police for their freedom to be themselves. The original handful of officers took shelter in the Stonewall building, until rioters broke through the windows and doors. And more chaos ensued. 

Cars were turned over, things lit on fire, there was harsh name calling and beatings of one another. Eventually, New York City's tactical police force intervened, but the raging continued with rioters chasing the police out of the neighborhood until streets were left charred and broken. Eventually, there was quiet, but once word got out, people talking, newspapers releasing their stories of the riot, thousands returned to the cause of Stonewall the following night to go at it again. 

You may wonder, why the battle? Finally, there was an out. A real out on the public streets kind of out. People declaring with victory arms that they were gay and okay because before this anything but conformitive sexuality was shunned. First by religion, and then psychiatry. There was no out of the closet, proud and gay, unless you wanted to loose yourself to torture treatments and incessant public ridicule, forced to straighten up. Can you imagine all these rules to hide yourself and finally the streets are filled with people like you and your allies demanding that the police stop discriminating against you? 

The historian David Carter writes in his book Stonewall how it not only changed the rioters, it changed the people who witnessed it in papers and on TV. They were touched by the actions of a socially despised minority standing up to the police. It's a big deal! I mean, gay activism and the LGBT rights movements were in place before Stonewall, but this catapulted them forward. Joan Nestle called the Stonewall rioting a coming together of historical forces refusing to endure discrimination. Lillian Faderman called it a emblem of gay and lesbian power and a shot heard round the world. It wasn't the start of LGBT history, but it was arguably the most influential event.

People energized by the riots were ready to take action. Groups like the Gay Liberation Front and Gay Activists Alliance were swelling with members and momentum. They spread news through their pamphlets and then even more organizations for equal rights mobilized. Their plan was to put in place Christopher Street Liberation Day. 

On the anniversary of Stonewall, a crowd covering 15 city blocks marched from Christopher St to Central Park, proud and out to the world. Los Angles and Chicago coordinated their marches the same day, and a year later, what has become known as Pride was in 3 more states and 4 more countries.

So that's the parade. The colors and songs to celebrate who we are, specifically the lesbian, gay, trans, bi, and queer us. It is not a completion of our efforts though. Sexual and gender minorities still don't have equal rights and still face Stonewall raid like discrimination. I hope this history lesson inspires you to change that. 

Stay Curious. 

That's what this shirt says, Stay Curious! There is also this video looking back on Stonewall after 40 years and this one that's a full documentary, since you're staying curious. 

*incomprehensible speech* Stay. Curious.

Matt- That's the one, that's it, right there. *Lindsey laughs* Put that on a shirt.