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Participants wave at parade goers at the Gay Pride Festival in 2014. This years Pride Parade will take place on June 13.
Participants wave at parade goers at the Gay Pride Festival in 2014. This years Pride Parade will take place on June 13.

LGBT edition: Pride parades represent more than just fun

Curtison Badonie, a senior biology major, said ‘pride’ means having acceptance of who an individual is, no matter what. Pride focuses on LGBTQ community representation through art and other forms of expression, regardless of how society treats them.

Badonie said he learned more about activists who were underrepresented than prominent figures such as Harvey Milk.

Frankie Flores, admin assistant at the LGBTQ Resource Center, said things started changing for the Queer community after World War I. In the 1920s, communities were traveling from the south to the north to be a part of the Harlem Renaissance — a time period at the foundations of modern Black and Queer identity.

“Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey placed codes inside of their music for other people,” Flores said. “Many singers used drag queens as backup dancers.”

In 1947, various laws were created to prohibit homosexual acts.

Shortly after, two organizations — the Mattachine Society in Los Angeles and the Daughters of Bilitis in San Francisco — educated people about what it meant to be gay or lesbian, he said.

“My criticism about these groups is that you had to be like ‘normal people’ — you had to be able-bodied and white. There wasn’t any color representation,” Flores said.

In the 1960s, more groups and activists came to the forefront. Activists such as Bayard Rustin, who was arrested for homosexual acts, were lost from history, he said.

“Bayard Rustin brought non-violence to Martin Luther King,” Flores said. “At first encounter, his house was very militarized and Rustin said that there was another way.”

This information is controversial because of Rustin’s criminal history and infrequent public appearances.

“He was instrumental to the Million Man March, but he was erased form history,” Flores said.

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The riots then began in 1966. The first was in Gene Compton’s Cafeteria, a 24-7 chain restaurant in San Francisco, California. Gene Compton’s Cafeteria was a safe haven until police harassment became violent, he said.

“A trans woman had enough and threw a cup of coffee at an officer. The riot lasted for a couple of days,” Flores said. “These records are lost from history, most likely because it represents trans women of color.”

Stonewall Queer Club was a place at which people had to sign in to enter. The police raid was scheduled for 1:20 a.m. June 28, 1969. Cops harassed the attendants. Attendants who were not wearing three articles of clothing that matched their designated gender were arrested, he said.

“Three major players for this riot include Sylvia Rivera, Miss Major and Marsha P. Johnson,” Flores said.

The riot was large enough that police officers had to barricade themselves and call for reinforcements, he said.

“Paddy wagons were brought in and people were arrested,” Flores said. “Miss Major was hit with a brick and was arrested and released the next day; Miss Major showered, changed and went back.”

The first Pride parade, then called Christopher Street Liberation Day, was organized by an openly bisexual woman named Brenda Howard.

Flores said the Pride Parade is not just a day for fun. It’s a day to see how things have changed and to look back at the heroes.

“People don’t talk about the history,” he said. “Here at the resource center, we educate people about the history to remind everyone it’s not just a party.”

Pride is a chance for people to express their identities, and the movement is a tribute to individuals who have to live in the closet, he said.

“I came out early, and that was a huge privilege,” Flores said. “It’s heartwarming to see families at the parade.”

Alma Rosa Silva-Bañuelos, director at the LGBTQ Resource Center, said the movement was one meant to save lives.

“The Pride movement was a resistance effort, an effort to be visible,” she said.

It is also an opportunity for young and old generations to be themselves for one day out of the year; an opportunity to remember those who have passed on because of homophobia, transphobia and brutality, she said.

“Stonewall isn’t taught in the public education system, and is interacted in higher education. There isn’t a push for Queen History,” said Silva-Bañuelos.

Few movements were documented or reported on, she said. Elders have published books or made documentaries on the subject to educate youths.

“Communication and respect must happen every day, not just for what we call pride. It will take all of us to uplift and end violence against the LGBTQ Community,” Silva-Bañuelos said.

This year’s Pride Parade is scheduled for Saturday.

Imani Lambert is a beat reporter for the Daily Lobo and can be reached by email at cultur or on Twitter 

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