Happy Pride Month! As a lesbian-owned business, pride is very important to us. We are so lucky to live in an inclusive place like Seattle and recognize that not everywhere is as accepting. Even Seattle hasn’t always been this way, and we know that it took a lot of work and activism to get us to this place. We aren’t finished, and there is still much work to be done. It feels appropriate to look back at not only the history of pride – but the history of pride in Seattle.
What is the History of Pride Month?
Pride month is observed in the month of June each year. Today there are marches and parades in almost every major city, however, that was not always the case. June 28th,1969 marks the beginning of the stonewall uprising in New York City. This was a series of events between the police and LQBTQ+ activists and community members. It started when the Stonewall Inn -a popular gay bar at the time- was raided by police. The police had a warrant due to the illegal sale of alcohol. Up until 1966, it was illegal in the state of New York to sell alcohol to a gay person. In 1969, the time of the stonewall uprising, it was still a criminal offense to be gay. Because of these laws, it was very hard to obtain a liquor license, so most gay bars and spaces operated without one.
These types of police raids were considered normal for people of the LQBTQIA+ community at that time, but this one was different. Things started to go south when the police put a woman in the back of their police car. She tried to escape a few times and the last time she tried to escape she was thrown into the car with too much force causing injury. This caused the crowd to erupt and they locked themselves in the bar to try to protect themselves from the possibility of more police violence. Though the crowd dispersed around 4:00 AM that morning, that evening thousands of protestors returned. These protests lasted 6 days.
During these protests, the activists were met with police brutality which erupted into a “large fight” on Wednesday, July 2, 1969. During the 6 days of protests, 21 people were arrested, and hundreds were injured due to the police beatings.
The First Pride Week
The first pride march was held the following year on the same day as the stonewall uprising, in New York City. It was officially started as a reminder of what the police did to the community, but over time it has morphed into so much more.
Seattle held its first pride week from June 24 – 30th, 1974. This was the first gay pride event in this region. The week started with information sessions, a memorial service for lives lost in hate crimes, and a large picnic in occidental park. Later in the day, the festivities of the picnic moved to volunteer park for entertainment, food, and fun. On the final day, June 30th, 1974, there was a “gay-in” at the Seattle Center. This included “zany dress and general frivolity” and song and dance around the fountain. There was even a performance by the first openly gay country band, Lavender County.
Though we had to take a break from in-person pride events during the COVID-19 Pandemic, we are happy to see they will be making a comeback this year. Get out there and show your pride!