First Lesbian and Gay Pride March in the United States Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

New York City hosted the first lesbian and gay pride march in the United States. The march commemorated the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion in Greenwich Village, an uprising that many believe sparked the modern GLBT rights movement in the United States.

Summary of Event

To commemorate the one year anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, Stonewall Rebellion gay and lesbian activists organized the first GLBT pride march in the United States. The march was held in New York City on June 28, 1970, and similar, though smaller, marches were also held in other U.S. cities, most notably Los Angeles. [kw]First Lesbian and Gay Pride March in the United States (June 28, 1970) [kw]Lesbian and Gay Pride March in the United States, First (June 28, 1970) [kw]Gay Pride March in the United States, First Lesbian and (June 28, 1970) [kw]March in the United States, First Lesbian and Gay Pride (June 28, 1970) [kw]United States, First Lesbian and Gay Pride March in the (June 28, 1970) Protests and marches;first U.S. pride march[US pride march] Political activism;marches Christopher Street Liberation Day, New York City [c]Marches, protests, and riots;June 28, 1970: First Lesbian and Gay Pride March in the United States[0800] [c]Organizations and institutions;June 28, 1970: First Lesbian and Gay Pride March in the United States[0800] [c]Civil rights;June 28, 1970: First Lesbian and Gay Pride March in the United States[0800] O’Brien, John Owles, Jim Rubin, Marc

The New York City parade, which began near Waverly Place in Greenwich Village Greenwich Village and continued along Fifth Avenue to Central Park, drew about two thousand people. The Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee was largely responsible for instituting a sense of organization and cohesiveness to the march. The committee, which had come together soon after the Stonewall Rebellion, named the pride event “Christopher Street Liberation Day.”

Gay activists of the time, including John O’Brien of the Gay Liberation Front, Gay Liberation Front along with Jim Owles and Marc Rubin of the Gay Activists Alliance, Gay Activists Alliance organized the 1970 New York march. Activist Morris Kight was influential in carrying out a similar march in Los Angeles that same year.

Numerous accounts of the march have been recorded. In one case, historian Martin Duberman, in his book Stonewall (1994), Stonewall (Duberman) provides an especially poignant quotation from one participant in the march: “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 GAA [the Gay Activist Alliance] notably resplendent in blue T-shirts with gold lambda crests, and the GLF [the Gay Liberation Front] 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, it was less a gesture of absolute defiance than a cover for embarrassment, an antidote for fear.”

Christopher Street Liberation Day laid the groundwork for the GLBT pride parades and festivals that have continued into the twenty-first century. Each year beginning in May and June, and extending into the early fall, pride festivals and parades are held across the United States to commemorate the birth of the modern gay and lesbian civil rights movement.

Significance

Christopher Street Liberation Day generated a sense of pride within the GLBT community while reaffirming the idea of collective empowerment. The first pride march in New York City not only served as a springboard for later gay movements but also set the tone for how movements for GLBT rights would come to celebrate gay pride.

The ideas of “pride” and “celebration,” galvanized by the 1970 march, have come to define the way many GLBT communities fight discrimination and social inequality. Consequently, the first Stonewall commemoration march has served not only to acknowledge the courage of the GLBT individuals who fought the police on June 28, 1969, but also to inculcate such courage and determination in future generations. Furthermore, the first pride march brought national attention to what had been considered a primarily northeast United States and California urban phenomenon. Pride marches prompted a national discourse that reached out from the traditional peripheries of large liberal cities and into typically insular small towns and communities, which would come to hold their own marches and festivals in the years following Stonewall.

Pride marches also encouraged gays and lesbians to plan and execute socially and politically charged events. Such practice in galvanizing the diverse and disparate queer community, while also helping to promote an agenda of tolerance and acceptance, would later prove immeasurable for GLBT movements such as opening military service to gays and lesbians and legalizing same-gender marriage and civil unions. Protests and marches;first U.S. pride march[US pride march] Political activism;marches

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Carter, David. Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2004.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">D’Emilio, John. Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Duberman, Martin. About Time: Exploring the Gay Past. New York: Meridian, 1991.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">_______. Stonewall. New York: Plume Books, 1994.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Katz, Jonathan Ned. Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A., A Documentary History. 1976. Rev. ed. New York: Meridian, 1992.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">_______. Gay/Lesbian Almanac: A New Documentary. New York: Harper & Row, 1983.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">McDarrah, Fred W. Gay Pride: Photographs from Stonewall to Today. Chicago: A Cappella Books, 1994.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Nelson, Lisa. “Marches and Parades.” In Gay Histories and Cultures, edited by George E. Haggerty. New York: Garland, 2000.

July 2-August 28, 1963: Rustin Organizes the March on Washington

June 27-July 2, 1969: Stonewall Rebellion Ignites Modern Gay and Lesbian Rights Movement

July 31, 1969: Gay Liberation Front Is Formed

October 11, 1987: Second March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights

April 25, 1993: March on Washington for Gay, Lesbian, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation

June, 1994: Stonewall 25 March and Rallies Are Held in New York City

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