Protests Return Pride to Its Roots

These activists are making it known that the LGBTQ community will keep fighting for equality and inclusion.

Many credit the Stonewall Uprising of 1969 with launching the modern Pride movement.

The truth is, there were many demonstrations, protests, and clashes with anti-LGBTQ authorities well before the community fought back against a police raid of the Stonewall Inn, now a national monument.

But in either case, taking to the streets to both celebrate diversity and demand equal rights gave birth to countless parades and celebrations—many held in June to commemorate the Stonewall action—across not only the country, but the world.

With the attacks on the LGBTQ community, first with the 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, followed by a resurgence of anti-LGBTQ legislative actions undertaken both by states as well as the federal government under the Trump administration, we are beginning to see a return to the revolutionary roots that started it all.

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The following locations are taking this historic moment to resist, fight back, and make it known that the LGBTQ community intends to keep fighting for the acceptance and rights that still remain anything but equally distributed.

  1. Starkville, Mississippi

    When the small town of Starkville, Mississippi, denied a Pride parade permit, it kicked off a fight that included national media attention and the threat of a lawsuit. The town relented, and the parade went ahead on March 24, with thousands taking to the streets with signs and flags.

    While there was a smattering of anti-LGBTQ street preachers and protesters present, they were far outnumbered and drowned out by the joyful cheers of the community.

    “I never expected to have this many people,” Mayor Lynn Spruill told the Starkville Daily News. “This would never have happened if we didn’t have the controversy, so I’m almost grateful for the controversy, in the sense that it became something more than it ever would have been. And it became something we can be very proud of.”

  2. Phoenix, Arizona

    Phoenix Pride
    Kevin Dooley/Flickr/CC License 2.0

    A protest against police involvement in Phoenix Pride this year was quickly corralled by officers, who forced around 30 demonstrators from the street, where they had linked arms, and onto the sidewalk using their bikes.

    The action came with the approval and direction of Phoenix Pride organizers, who said they didn’t expect members of Trans Queer Pueblo, a community organization advocating for undocumented LGBTQ people of color, to interrupt the parade, held April 8, as they did last year. Still, they told police to intervene if necessary, which they did, as demonstrators chanted, “Hey hey, ho ho, racist cops have got to go,” Cronkite News reports.

    “Next year we won’t have to ask or demand space. We will create our own space where we can celebrate and work for our communities,” said organizer Dago Bailon in a statement.

    “Clearly, this shows where Pride stands and the work they need to do. This is how state violence and white supremacy happens, when a parade like this calls the police on people of color who raise their voice.”

    Jeremy Helfgot, a spokesman for Phoenix Pride, said that a police presence is necessary to ensure everyone’s safety.

  3. Columbus, Indiana

    Not only had Columbus, Indiana, never had a Pride parade in its history, it also happens to be the hometown of Vice President Mike Pence.

    Erin Bailey, a high schooler in Columbus, Indiana, planned the April 14 event as her senior project, and it exceeded expectations.

    Not only did the gathering span two blocks, it included around two dozen vendors and even had a Pence impersonator, “Mike Hot-Pence,” who posed for photos and took donations for LGBTQ charities.

    “I just wanted to be able to make a big change in the community,” Bailey told WFIU. “So I thought we needed something that was big, and different, and showed all diversity.”

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  4. Singapore

    ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images

    Singapore’s annual Pink Dot festival is celebrating 10 years, with the traditional large gathering in a park taking place on July 21. There will also be a two week-long lineup of community events leading up to the signature event.

    The festival is a chance for the community to show up and be visible while they fought for rights in the conservative island city-state, where gay sex among consenting men is still punishable by prison time, and where there are no legal protections against discrimination in areas like adoption, housing, and employment.

  5. Uganda

    ISAAC KASAMANI/AFP/Getty Images

    LGBTQ rights are also more or less non-existent in the East African country of Uganda. There remains a high level of societal hostility toward the LGBT community, including incidents of real violence. In 2011, prominent LGBTQ rights advocate David Kato was murdered.

    Attempts at holding Pride demonstrations the past two years have been thwarted by authorities. Last year’s events were cancelled amid threats of violence and arrest, and the year before, organizers were arrested and events shutdown.

    There is talk of attempting to hold an event again this year, in the capital city of Kampala.

    “The momentum is now so different to 2015,” Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), told The Daily Beast. “Then just a handful of LGBTs gathered. Now we are looking at hundreds of people wanting to gather for a Pride event.”

    He said they are working with straight allies as well as police to ensure the event can take place without another crackdown.

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