Here in San Francisco, we have the wonderful opportunity to witness the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration and the Parade on Saturday, June 24th. To reflect upon Pride Month, let’s share some interesting facts you may not have known.
What is Pride Month about?
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month is celebrated each year in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. The Stonewall riots were the stepping stone for the Gay Liberation Movement within the U.S. when police arrested Stonewall patrons on the morning of June 28, 1969, and the patrons fought back. Riots went on for several days and that is what many recognize as the catalyst for the modern LGBT civil rights movement. The Stonewall Inn is now a part of the Stonewall Nation Monument, one of America’s national parks.
Although Pride is celebrated in June to commemorate Stonewall, there is the lesser known Compton Cafeteria Riot. This occurred during the summer of 1966 in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. When a policeman grabbed a drag queen and made an unwarranted arrest attempt, she threw a cup of coffee in the officer’s face and the riot erupted. Drag queens fought back after being harassed repeatedly. It was the first recorded act of resistance to social oppression and police harassment against the queer community.
Why are there rainbow flags?
People commonly associate the gay Pride flag or LGBT Pride flag with the rainbow flag. In 1978, Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and was first openly gay elected as a public official in California. For the Gay Freedom Day Parade during the summer of 1978, Harvey Milk commissioned Gilbert Baker, a gay rights activist and artist, to make a flag to fly overhead. They both knew it had to be bright and represent hope to the LGBT community.
The flag was assembled by hand and volunteers swarmed by to help get the project going. The all-white cotton muslin was dyed by hand using warm water, powdered color dye, soda ash, and salt. They sat on the rooftop in bins getting flipped constantly so the colors wouldn’t mottle. The rainbow flag was then flown above San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day Parade and that was when it became the international symbol for LGBT rights.
The original pride flag had eight colors and each color had its own meaning:
Hot Pink – Sex
Red – Life
Orange – Healing
Yellow – Sunlight
Green – Nature
Turquoise – Magic
Blue – Serenity
Violet – Spirit
However, Pink was first dropped out due to the lack of Hot Pink dye. They removed turquoise to have an even number of stripes on the design.
Why are there other flags in the Pride Parade?
There are actually many flags that represent different flags with different meanings. They go from lesbian, gay, and bisexual to transgender, intersex, non-binary, and more! People like to use flags to show their support for a more specific group. LGBT rights cover a wide range of people’s gender identity, gender expression, physical attraction, and emotional attraction. LGBTQIA (an extended version of LGBT) is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual.
The Gender Unicorn is a useful picture to depict how diverse someone can be. Biological sex plays a big part in people’s gender and there are many intersex people out there. (A broad term used for someone’s reproductive or sexual anatomy condition is Intersex). In fact, one in 100 births are people whose bodies differ from the standard male or female.