Pride Started as a Riot and it’s Still a Fight for Equality
In 1969, an uprising began in response to a New York City police raid of the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village. Fighting the oppression of the LGBTQ+ community and taking cues from the civil rights movement, members of the LGBTQ+ community led a series of protests and demonstrations that lasted six days. Largely credited as a turning point in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, the Stonewall Uprising inspired more organized activism for LGBTQ+ equality and launched the modern day pride movement.
The Fight for LGBTQ+ Rights in St. Pete
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Florida lawmakers targeted LGBTQ+ people. In 1977 Florida Citrus Commission spokeswoman Anita Bryant waged an ongoing, nationally publicized verbal war with gay people. As recently as the 1980s, St. Pete police routinely harassed and arrested gay men for suspected homosexual activity.
In 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws governing homosexuality and that same year, St. Pete organized its first Pride celebration. Today, St. Pete hosts the largest annual Pride celebration in the Southeast and is consistently named as one of the most queer-friendly cities in the region.
Pride Parades Aren’t Policy Change
Even in a relatively safe city, LGBTQ+ folks still face discrimination in policy and practice. Florida and other states across the country continue to introduce legislation that targets trans people, including trans youth, and trans people continue to be marginalized and forced into survival situations that put them at higher risk for violence from the state, strangers, and themselves. LGBTQ+ people of color face even greater challenges than their White counterparts, even in inclusive spaces, and true equity is realized only through an intersectional lens.