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What is Pride Month? What to know about the LGBTQ observance

In honor of Pride, brush up on the history and meaning of the month-long commemoration.

June is Pride Month and across the world there are celebrations and commemorations to recognize all who identify as LGBTQ and their allies.

While the rainbows and glitter may catch your eye, at the heart of Pride Month is a call for greater unity, visibility and equality for the LGBTQ community, as well as a time to reflect on the milestones of the past 50 years.

What is the meaning of Pride Month? According to the GLADD website, Pride provides "an opportunity for the community to come together, take stock and recognize the advances and setbacks made in the past year. It is also a chance for the community to come together and celebrate in a festive, affirming atmosphere."

From June 1 to June 30, Pride celebrations, marches, festivals, performances and gatherings are held to uplift LGBTQ voices, and last anywhere from several days to a full week.

Below, we've answered all of your biggest questions about Pride Month, including why it's celebrated in June and how the rainbow flag came to be a universal symbol of solidarity.

What is Pride Month?

Pride Month celebrates LGBTQ culture, achievements and activism through a series of organized activities, including film festivals, art exhibits, marches, concerts and other programs.

Through these efforts, the LGBTQ community and its allies also aim to increase awareness for ongoing issues of inequality as well as commemorate the lives lost to hate crimes and the AIDS crisis.

Why is Pride Month in June?

Pride Month is observed in June to honor the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, a touchstone event in LGBTQ history.

In the late 1960s, being openly gay was largely prohibited in most places. New York, in particular, had a rule that the simple presence of someone gay or genderqueer counted as disorderly conduct, effectively outlawing gay bars.

On June 28, 1969, patrons of the Stonewall Inn, a popular bar with a diverse LGBTQ clientele, stood their ground after police raided the establishment. The resulting clash led to days of riots and protests, known as the Stonewall Uprising.

One year later, on the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, thousands of people flooded the streets of Manhattan in the Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day March, regarded as the first gay pride event ever.

Stonewall Inn nightclub raid.
The Stonewall Inn was named a national monument by President Barack Obama in 2016.NY Daily News via Getty Images

How did Pride Month begin?

Pride Month had humble beginnings: It initially began as Gay Pride Day, observed annually on the last Sunday in June.

As awareness increased, more activities and events were planned throughout the month and eventually, it evolved into the month-long observance, aptly named Pride Month.

In 1999, President Bill Clinton officially declared June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, setting aside the month as a time to recognize the LGBTQ community’s achievements and support the community.

What is the symbol of Pride?

Pride March
The rainbow flag is the symbol for LGBTQ pride.Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images

The rainbow flag is universally recognized as the symbol for LGBTQ pride. It was created by renowned San Francisco activist Gilbert Baker.

According to Baker, “the rainbow of humanity" is intended to symbolize all genders and races.

Each of the six colors of the rainbow flag represent a different aspect of the LGBTQ movement: life, healing, sunlight, nature, serenity and spirit.

In 2017, Philadelphia added a black and brown stripe to their flag to symbolically represent LGBTQ people of color who have often felt marginalized from their own community.

Today, many organizations have adopted that flag, also adding the colors of the transgender pride flag, which are baby blue and light pink.

How can I celebrate Pride Month?

Along with reading LGBTQ-inspired books or posting a meaningful Pride Month quote on Instagram, you can join in any of the nationwide celebrations held throughout the month of June.

One of the largest Pride events occurs in New York City, the birthplace of modern gay rights movement. The NYC Pride parade, held on June 25 this year, is the one of the country's biggest Pride Month parades drawing nearly 2 million attendees.

Here’s a list of other U.S. cities hosting Pride Month events this year:

LGTBQ Pride Month resources

To learn more about Pride Month or find additional ways to get involved, check out the following resources:

  • GLAAD, a non-government agency founded to promote LGBTQ acceptance along with identifying and preventing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals.
  • GLSEN, a network of students, families and education advocates working to facilitate LGBTQ safety and support in schools.
  • The Equality Federation is a LGBTQ advocacy group working to help advance the rights of LGBTQ people.
  • The National LGBTQ Task Force, an advocacy group dedicated to advancing freedom, justice and equality for LGBTQ people.
  • The Library of Congress, for history on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Pride Month.
  • The Anti-Defamation League, an anti-hate organization dedicated to fighting bias, extremism, discrimination or hate.
  •  The American Civil Liberties Union, works to preserve and defend the rights and liberties of U.S. citizens.