At ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, LGBT Pride Month holds a special place in our hearts as time to commemorate LGBT people collectively declaring, “I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!” Let's walk down gay history lane and explore the origins of Pride by taking a closer look at those electrifying evenings in June when LGBT people decided to stop hiding and start fighting.
The Good Fight Had Already Begun
In reality, early homophile organizations had been organizing for years prior to Stonewall.
Groups like the Mattachine Society, Daughters of Bilitis, and ONE Inc. were operating in a handful of cities raising awareness about employment discrimination, homophobic laws, police brutality, and other problems the LGBT community faced at that time.
During the 1960s, activists were picketing in various locations with moderate success, including the "Annual Reminders" every July 4 at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, in front of the White House, and demonstrations like the one at the Black Cat Tavern in Los Angeles to protest a police raid of the bar a few days before.
It has been said that during the turbulent ’60s, gay bars were to gay people as churches were to African-Americans in the South. They were temporary refuges, sanctuaries where one could find a brief respite from the stifling homophobic heat of the outside world.
For the most part, pre-Stonewall activism tended to be fairly regional and was made up of several independent fledgling cells of a not-yet-born national gay civil rights movement, a movement that still lacked a collective power large enough to draw its foot solders out of hiding and onto the streets.
Then came Stonewall.
Above Right: Patrons of the Stonewall Inn. Above: Dottie Frank (center) with others at Acme Bar, circa 1961