The History of Pride in Seattle
Open for patrons in 1967 the Stonewall Inn represents a historical turning point for the LGBTQ+ rights movement. At the time the bar was a private one meaning it didn’t serve alcoholic beverages and was specifically for gay people. This bar served as a safe place where members of the LGBTQ+ community could be themselves without the fear of being judged or hurt. Then of course the Stonewall Protests occurred in 1969 where people protested against being treated unfairly because of their sexualities/genders. These protests greatly impacted the LGBTQ+ rights movement as it led to the organization of Pride events around the world. Later in 2016, the Stonewall Inn was declared a national monument for the LGBTQ+ rights movement by President Barack Obama which sealed the deal of Stonewall Inn’s importance.
Backstory and Context
Pride, like many words in the American language, has more than one meaning. It is commonly used in conversations to express a feeling of confidence but the word itself also represents a historical movement amongst a group of people. This group of people is known as the LGBTQ+ community. The plus sign is added as a way to ensure those that don’t fall into the letters represented in the acronym are still recognized. The form of pride I want to discuss is the yearly celebration of everyone within this community. In Seattle, this celebration occurs in different forms such as in parades and picnics. Many cities around the world celebrate Pride during the month of June which has been known within the LGBTQ+ community as Pride month.
The Stonewall Protests of 1969 occurred after a particular police raid on June 24th of a Gay bar called the Stonewall Inn which is located in New York City. During this time period members of the LGBTQ+ community were being targeted by the police as well as by the public in various forms of discrimination. An example being the night of June 24th, 1969 where employees of the Stonewall Inn were arrested for serving alcoholic beverages to members of the LGBTQ+ community. A few raids followed this event in which many bar-goers actually fought back. The police attempted to arrest transgender women in one of these raids and those women along with other members of the LGBTQ+ community stood up to the cops by throwing bottles and other objects at them. This particular protest ended with the police force backing down and actually hiding from the protesters. This all happened from the night of June 24th to the 28th and continued through the first few days of July. The events at Stonewall Inn mark the beginning of the Pride movement as the first-ever Pride week was held in New York on the anniversary of the protests.
Seattle, unlike most cities, had two first Pride celebrations. The first Pride celebration in Seattle happened in the year 1974 and Seattle was one of the first five cities to celebrate Pride. The first four being Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. This first Pride week was actually unofficial with an attendance record of fewer than 50 people. The first official Pride week occurred 3 years later where a Pride week was held from June 25th to July 1st. This was labeled as the official first Pride week as it was declared that way by Wes Ulman, Seattle’s Mayor at the time. Over 2,000 people showed up to celebrate in the form of a march during the first official Pride week. Pride week was to be recognized yearly from this point onwards.
Since the first Pride weeks, Pride has developed into a month-long celebration beginning on June 1st and ending June 30th. There was an upsurge in the amount of people attending the various parades, the most recent Pride parade in 2019 had about 300,000 people. Seattle has gone from being supportive of gay people to now being supportive of everyone within the LGBTQ+ community. In other words, Pride is no longer focused on one group but on all of them. Another big change is the way Pride is viewed by the public eye. It is no longer seen as disgraceful or unlawful but rather as a way of life. While there are still people out there who have qualms about the movement, the majority of Seattle’s population is very accepting.
Pride isn’t just celebrated in Seattle but is actually recognized throughout the U.S. and around parts of the World. Currently, Pride month isn’t just celebrated by the United States but is actually celebrated worldwide. While some events are bigger than others there are still various events such as parades and marches around the world. This is a huge deal as the idea of celebrating Pride was considered a crime only 51 years ago. To wrap this up; Seattle was one of the first cities in the US to acknowledge the LGBTQ+ community and remains a hotspot for LGBTQ+ representation.
Frantilla, Anne. The Gay Rights Movement and the City of Seattle during the 1970s, Seattle.gov. Accessed June 1st 2020. https://www.seattle.gov/cityarchives/exhibits-and-education/digital-document-libraries/gay-rights-in-the-1970s?utm_source=The+Evergrey&utm_campaign=cb268fe53a-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_06_20_10_37&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b61d1a1dd2-cb268fe53a-166721009&mc_cid=cb268fe53a&mc_eid=99573b30de.
Hill, Chrystie. Queer History in Seattle, Part 2: After Stonewall, HistoryLink.org. November 28th 2003. Accessed June 1st 2020. https://www.historylink.org/File/4266.
History.com Editors. Stonewall Riots, HISTORY. May 31st 2017. Accessed June 1st 2020. https://www.history.com/topics/gay-rights/the-stonewall-riots.
Knauf, Ana Sofia. Happy Pride! Here’s a short history of Seattle’s big LGBTQ+ celebration, The Evergrey. June 21st 2018. Accessed June 1st 2020. https://theevergrey.com/short-history-of-seattle-pride/.
List of LGBT events, Wikipedia. Accessed June 1st 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_LGBT_events.
McKenzie, Madeline. Celebrate a landmark Pride at rainbow array of Seattle-area events, The Seattle Times. June 19th 2019. Accessed June 1st 2020. https://www.seattletimes.com/life/lifestyle/celebrate-a-landmark-pride-at-rainbow-array-of-seattle-area-events/.
Pruitt, Sarah. What Happened at the Stonewall Riots? A Timeline of the 1969 Uprising, HISTORY. June 13th 2019. Accessed June 1st 2020. https://www.history.com/news/stonewall-riots-timeline.