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Pride Month: A History

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June 1st marks the beginning of Pride Month, 30 days of recognizing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community. Throughout June, marches, parades, and more events celebrate the importance of love, diversity, and pride in one’s sexuality across the United States.

What We Know:

Pride Month commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Uprising. At the time, every state except Illinois considered homosexuality a federal offense. As a result, police would frequently raid gay bars and harass customers.

One of the more notable bars was the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. Four days before the riots, the New York Police Department (NYPD) stormed Stonewall, arrested some of its employees, and confiscated their liquor. Officers stated they targeted the location for not holding a liquor license.

On June 28, just after midnight, eight undercover officers entered the hideaway and began arresting people. Alongside the workers, the police singled out drag queens and cross-dressers; New York deemed it illegal to dress up as a member of the opposite sex. While NYPD arrived in cars and on foot to collect the arrested, a nearby crowd grew restless.

According to witnesses, officers manhandled a woman dressed in masculine attire who complained about tight handcuffs. People began to taunt the law enforcement agents, calling them names such as “pigs” and “copper.” The onlookers started throwing objects such as pennies and bottles at the officers and slashed their tires. This made the police retreat and started a demonstration which went on for six nights.

“It was not the first time police raided a gay bar, and it was not the first time LGBTQ+ people fought back, but the events that would unfold over the next six days would fundamentally change the discourse surrounding LGBTQ+ activism in the United States,” the Library of Congress writes.

The Library of Congress deems the riots a “tipping point” for the gay liberation movement. On the first anniversary of Stonewall, organizers assembled a group of 3,000 to 5,000 people and marched from Christopher Street to Central Park. They also created Pride Day and Pride Week to honor those who identified as homosexual, bisexual, transgender, or queer. Pride marches and celebrations expanded to other cities and states throughout the 1970s until they became the occasion we know today.

Former President Bill Clinton declared June as the United States’ official Pride Month in 1999. After him, Presidents Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden have also acknowledged June as Pride Month.

“While the aim of pride day started with a political nature, many cities around the world have such wide acceptance and legal protections that many events have become a celebration of pride for the local LGBTQ+ community,” says the  International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA).

Throughout June, parades, marches, concerts, parties, and memorials also commemorate those who lost their lives due to anti-LGBTQ+ violence or to HIV/AIDS. Pride parades across the country now draw millions of attendees compared to the 1970 inaugural pride march. The exponential growth of the movement yields further activism in communities, cities, and countries. Some of the largest international parades occur in New York City, São Paulo, and Madrid, while Washington D.C., San Francisco, Key West, and Denver parades gain notable momentum in the United States.

Also prominent during pride month is the rainbow flag, developed in 1978 by US Army veteran Gilbert Baker, which has become the primary symbol of gay rights activism.

Baker’s website explains that each color of the flag has a distinct meaning. The flag represents pillars of pride, namely life, healing, sunlight, nature, serenity, and spirit. This popularized symbol of LGBTQ acceptance is not only prevalent during pride month, but its presence is extensive throughout the year on buildings, cars, and social media alike. 

Since 1969 and the growth of the Pride movement, officials have worked to grant more rights to LGBTQ+ citizens. For example, in 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that the Fourteenth Amendment requires all states to allow and recognize same-sex marriages. The Supreme Court announced its decision on the case on June 26, 2015, just two days before the 46th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most national pride parades were canceled in 2020. However, depending on state and local guidelines, certain cities may move forward with in-person parades this year. Organizations and institutions will additionally offer online events so LGBTQ+ advocates may demonstrate support virtually.

Black News Alerts hopes 2020’s Pride Month brings joy, peace, and confidence to all our LGBTQ+ readers and allies. We also aim to bring more awareness to LGBTQ+ struggles and stories throughout the month and the whole year.

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Crime

Three People Arrested in Connection to Homophobic Killing of 24-Year-Old

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Three people were arrested by the Spanish police over the killing of a 24-year-old gay male.

What We Know:

  • Samuel Luiz, a nursing assistant, was beaten to death outside of a club in A Coruña on Saturday. Two of Luiz’s friends, Lina and Vanesa, told reporters that Luiz was outside on a video call when two men and one woman attacked him. The three individuals thought Luiz was taking a video of them, and though he and his friends told them he was on a call, one of the individuals began to shout homophobic slurs towards him.
  • Vanesa, who was on the video call with Luiz, stated that the video went dark, but she could still make out the audio. She heard one of the men yell, “either stop recording, or I’ll kill you, fag.” Although she couldn’t make out what was happening, she heard Luiz getting beaten up and Lina yelling to leave him alone. The man eventually stopped, leaving Luiz bruised but alive. He then returned with about 12 others to kick and punch Luiz. Despite emergency services efforts, Luiz later died at the hospital.
  • The killing of Luiz has prompted protests all over Spain, in cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza, and A Coruña. Members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies protested for the arrest of those connected to Luiz’s murder and for protection from LGBTQ+ violence in the area. Many were seen holding signs that said “Justice for Samuel” and rainbow flags with black ribbons on them.
  • Jose Minones, the government’s chief delegate over the area where Luiz was killed, stated in an interview that the incident being ruled a hate crime is not off the table. Minones stated that the investigation is ongoing and that the judge over the case will ultimately decide how to classify this heinous attack.
  • Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called Luiz’s murder a “savage and depraved act.” He has faith in the country’s justice system that all those involved in Luiz’s murder will be captured. Spain has made some efforts to protect the rights of those in the LGBTQ+ community, and Sánchez said he would not tolerate the country moving backward. He showcased his solidarity with those protesting via Twitter.

  • Homophobic attacks have increased over the past few years in many European countries. Two male doctors were attacked in Hungary for kissing in the club. Their attack came weeks after the country decided on an anti-LGBTQ+ law that removed all “educational materials in schools or content on children’s TV that displays diversion from one’s biological sex, change of gender, or portrays homosexuality.”
  • A lesbian couple on a London bus was left bruised and covered in blood after being attacked by teenagers. The group harassed the couple, trying to force them to kiss, and beat them up. This attack resulted in the arrest of five teens between the ages of 15 and 18.

Social rights minister Ione Belarra said she stood with the LGBTQ+ community and voiced that everyone should be free to be who they are. Minones claimed that future arrests may be made as police are still going through footage from security cameras and cell phones, as well as witness statements.

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Headlines

Supreme Court won’t overturn ruling against business that refused service for gay weddings

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The Supreme Court on Friday declined to wade into the contentious issue of whether businesses have a right to refuse service for same-sex wedding ceremonies despite state laws forbidding them from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

The court dodged the wedding question three years ago in a case involving a Colorado baker who said baking a cake to celebrate a same-sex marriage would violate his right of free expression and religious beliefs. The issue came back in an appeal brought by Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland, Washington.

The court said Friday that it would not take up her appeal, leaving the state court rulings against her intact and again ducking the hot-button issue. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch said the court should have taken the case.

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LGBTQIA+

Supreme Court Supports Catholic Adoption Agency’s Right to Deny LGBTQ Couples

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(Shawn Thew — EPA / Shutterstock)

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court sided with Catholic Social Services (CSS) in their lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia for terminating their contract to screen foster parents due to CSS’s refusal to consider same-sex couples.

What We Know:

  • Philadelphia has custody of 5,000 children that have been abused or neglected. They have 30 contracts with private agencies to provide various services for these children, such as foster care, placement, and group homes. The contracts ban discrimination against LGBTQ couples in screening for foster parents, which CSS has a policy against due to religious reasons.
  • CSS’s lawyer argued that the city was trying to prevent CSS from doing work it has done for “two centuries.” Neal Katyal, the lawyer for the city’s representation, pointed out that despite the cancellation of their screening contract, CSS was still be receiving millions for other programs they were in contract with.
  • Justices were divided 6 to 3 on the reasoning of the decision. Chief Justice John Roberts penned the opinion of the majority, stating that Philadelphia violated the First Amendment. Longstanding precedents in the court consider laws that are neutral to religion and generally applicable to be constitutional.

Roberts wrote, “As an initial matter, it is plain that the city’s actions have burdened CSS’s religious exercise by putting it to the choice of curtailing its mission or approving relationships consistent with its beliefs.”

  • His opinion was more narrow in scope than conservatives were hoping for. LGBTQ supporters were concerned this ruling would strike down a 1990 precedent.
  • The 1990 precedent, Employment Division v. Smith, protects neutral and generally applicable laws that “burden religion.” This provides leeway for states and cities to forbid discrimination. Justice Samuel Alito felt as though Robert’s narrow reasoning was rendering the court’s decision temporary. In reference to Employment Division v. Smith, Alito said, “This severe holding is ripe for reexamination.”

The decision overrules the opinion of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with Philadelphia. Diana Cortes, Philadelphia City Solicitor, responded, “With today’s decision, the Court has usurped the city’s judgment that a non-discrimination policy is in the best interests of the children in its care, with disturbing consequences for other government programs and services.”

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