Exploring LGBTQ Pride Month

On June 28, 1969, police officers in New York City aggressively raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. These sorts of discriminatory raids were common in this era. As in other acts of resistance at the time, the Stonewall patrons fought back against the police. The night evolved into a spontaneous uprising and helped inspire the gay liberation movement we still see in action today. While previous instances of resistance had rarely led to lasting change, activists worked to publicize and commemorate the uprising, forging organizations and networks to build momentum. These efforts helped usher in a new, more visible and coordinated era of gay rights activism. (The library houses many books on the history of Stonewall, including “The Stonewall Reader”; you can find that book and others in our nonfiction book list produced for Pride Month.)

Soon after the Stonewall uprising, members of the LGBTQ community all over the country began marking the anniversary of this watershed moment with celebrations in June. The exact date and nature of the celebrations varied from location to location but were all devoted to advocating for gay rights. In the mid-1990s, education organizations joined forces to formalize June as LGBT History Month. President Bill Clinton was the first U.S. president to issue a proclamation acknowledging Pride Month, with Presidents Barack Obama and Joe Biden following suit. Today, people across America observe Pride Month through parades, marches, dances, public programs, performances, and other events and activities to uplift the LGBTQ community and advocate for their rights.

A full slate of Pride-related events is being held in Princeton this year. On June 3, the library co-hosted the Princeton Community Pride Picnic at the Princeton Shopping Center courtyard. The picnic was followed by a Pride Dance at the Princeton Arts Council. Library staff will be marching in the Princeton Pride Parade, held on June 18 and organized by the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice. The parade route will go primarily through the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood before ending at the Princeton Family YMCA for an after-party. On Thursdays in June, you can come to the library for screenings of films selected for our Pride Month Film Series. In addition, the library has put together a new resource guide of book lists, educator tools, and more.

by Madeleine Rosenberg

Photograph by Edwin J. Torres / NJ Governor’s Office. Courtesy of Creative Commons (CC BY-NC 2.0).

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