Posted by ONE Community on 06/13/2017

PRIDE: How it evolved from suit and tie "Annual Reminder" to sometimes "raucous" celebrations

The Washington Post's Perry Stein described the first gay rights march on the Fourth of July in 1964 as a scene hard to imagine in today's day and age. "The first time, they marched in suits," he wrote adding that a few dozen people showed up every year to the relaxed demonstrations holding signs that read "homosexuals deserve equal empowerment," for example.

According to Stein, Frank Kameny organized the annual gathering in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Kameny, who successfully led demonstrations in New York, Washington and Philadelphia was fired from his federal government job due to his sexual orientation.

Today's pride celebrations in cities all over the world can be traced back to Kameny's humble and business oriented demonstrations in the 1960's.

“The Annual Reminder was meant to remind the nation on its birthday of the promise of rights, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that had been denied to gay people,” said George Chauncey, a history professor at Yale University.

The June 29, 1969 Stonewall riots where police raided a gay bar in New York City marked a turning point in the history behind Pride. Craig Rodwell, owner of the Greenwich Villages Oscar Wilde Bookshop gathered around 30 gay and lesbian activists and brought them down to the Annual Reminder in Philadelphia days later.

The New York protesters were dressed in jeans and tees, while Kameny and his affiliates were dressed in suits. According to Lillian Faderman, author of “The Gay Revolution” Kameny spotted two female protesters holding hands and demanded they save the PDA for later. The New York protesters rebelled and scribbled over their signs.

All of the other Fourth of July events and protests overshadowed the Annual Reminder. Rodwell organized another one the following year on the anniversary of the Stonewall riots and attracted thousands of people to New York City. This is the event that according to Stein has “morphed” into what Pride is today.

Read more at The Washington Post.

Contact This Member