In June 1970, 2000 gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) activists gathered in New York City for the first-ever pride march to mark the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, three days of violent confrontations with police that launched the "gay liberation" movement. Since then, GLBT pride marches have spread across the globe; by 1998 they were held in 116 locations in 47 U.S. states and territories, as well as 87 locations in 32 other countries worldwide, including throughout the New York City Metro area.
Below are quotations from participants and other eyewitnesses at the first pride event in 1970.
- "These days mean something special for every lesbian and homosexual. They mark the first time that gays took to the streets angry, proud, joyous -- tearing down the prisons in which this sexist society has chained us. They are days to march, to chant, to dance, to love, to rap, to study -- with brothers and sisters coming together to openly affirm the beauty of our lives and throw wide open the closet doors which will no longer be nailed shut . . ." -- from the LGB publication Come Out!
- "By the time the kick-off came, at about two-fifteen, everyone . . . was scared to death. As they fell in under their organizational banners -- the GAAers notably resplendent in blue T-shirts with gold lambda crests, the GLFers crowded under a banner adorned with same-sex symbols -- they shouted encouragement at each other, hugged their neighbors fiercely, raised clenched fists in the air, and spread their fingers in the V sign -- for many, less a gesture of absolute defiance than a cover for embarrassment, an antidote for fear." -- from Stonewall by historian Martin Duberman, who was speaking of members of the Gay Activist Alliance (GAA) and the Gay Liberation Front (GLF)
- "Despite political and social differences we may have, we are united on this common ground: for the first time in history we are together as The Homosexual Community . . . Every one of us is important. We are showing our strength and love for each other by coming here today. We are all participants in the most important Gay event in history." -- from a flyer handed out by organizers at the first pride march
- "Spectators blanch, then usually grin. But if they sometimes don't grin, they don't frown either . . . Has New York ever had such an unhassled protest march? But, then, has New York ever had such an ecstatic protest march?" -- by eyewitness and historian of the early LGB movement Don Teal
Back to the June 2001
Issue of Body Positive