Over the years, Pride has evolved from what it was originally: A celebration of a riot — the 1969 Stonewall Riots, to be exact — and from those ashes, a new spirit created a community. Those of us who were there at that Pride celebration one year later believed it stood for a new generation of out, loud and proud LGBTQ+ people.
Today, Pride is a global celebration of community. It unites us in the fight for visibility, inclusion and equality in the face of hatred. Millions now come out to celebrate Pride to protest or fight back against homophobia and transphobia each year.
None of us could have imagined that the first Pride would become what it is today: A celebration in different forms around the world. We didn’t know it would be historic. All we had was a passion to be out, loud and proud.
In 1970, we had no corporate or government support or sponsorships. There’s a debate in the community today about whether to allow corporate sponsors, and at the same time, those corporations who support Pride are under attack from the right wing.
Personally, I welcome all those who support Pride. My only request is that you don’t backpedal as Anheuser-Busch did this year after conservatives protested the company’s marketing campaign using transgender woman Dylan Mulvaney. Also, be smart about how you show your support of Pride.
This brings me to my Pride, 53 years later. From that happy, cheerful 19-year-old in 1970 to a 72-year-old in 2023 taking it all in. There’s a part of me that can spot someone in a crowd who is at their first Pride. And if I watch them long enough, I’ll eventually see a certain smile that comes across their face, where they realize they are part of a community. That kind of a smile only comes once in a lifetime. Celebrate that smile. And keep smiling for those who can’t. When you do that, you understand Pride.