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Pride Month Recap 2016

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 by Andrew Heikkila

To commemorate the Stonewall Riots in June of 1969, which sprung up in defense of gay rights and to protest a police raid of the gay club the Stonewall Inn, June has become synonymous with the LGBTQ community as pride month. The President has nationally declared June Pride Month in 2016, and multiple parades and marches around the U.S. showed off all of the beauty, sadness, and activism of a strong community. Here’s a look at some of the bigger events in metropolitan areas:

San Francisco

The theme of San Francisco’s pride celebrations this year was “For Racial and Economic Justice.” Music, parties, and a parade down Market Street took place June 25th - 26th. The proudly named “Dykes on Bikes” contingent rode their motorcycles through the streets, while later on other marchers carried signs to remember the victims of the Orlando tragedy. Hoodline.com quoted a woman named Romney they interviewed during the parade who made mention that the first of these “parades” started in 1978, but back then they were called marches. How the times have changed.

Chicago

Jordin Sparks headlined Chicago’s Pride Fest 2016 on weekend of June 18th - 19th, while Chicago Pride’s 47th anniversary parade took place on June 26th. The Chicago Fire Department showed their support by participating in the parade, and the Chicago Cubs had a float including lesbian team owner Laura Rickets, and openly gay former Major Leaguer Billy Bean front and center. Unfortunately not everything went off without a hitch--apparently Pride at Montrose, a Pride event for people of color, was shut down by police allegedly because the “barricade around the stage was too short.”

Boston

Festival happened the weekend of June 10th - 12th in City Hall Plaza. The parade kicked off Saturday around noon and traveled through the Boston Common. The theme was “Solidarity Through Pride” and included multiple concerts, block parties, and even a youth pride dance. Apparently the Tech and Life Sciences industries were well-represented in Boston, and the parade had record participation from organizations who wanted to march. “Pride is not just a celebration. It’s a political statement,” said one participant. “It’s the one time a year where people who don’t necessarily intermingle with our culture get to see us.” Also, as a fun side note, Boston’s hashtag #WickedProud was trending.

Los Angeles

LA’s Pride Festival also took place the weekend of June 10th - 12th, and included headliners Carley Rae Jepsen, Charlie XCX, and Krewella, the latter apparently doing the honors of marrying a lesbian couple on stage. The parade’s grand marshal was none other than Jewel Thai-Williams, the proprietor of one of the first black gay discos in 1973. Making a special appearance was the cast of the TV show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Rob McElhenney, Kaitlin Olson, Danny DeVito, and Mary Elizabeth Ellis paraded through town on a float made to resemble The Gang’s favorite hangout spot, Paddy’s Pub.

Washington D.C.

D.C.’s Pride Parade was hosted by Capital Pride Alliance on June 11th and took place less than two miles north of the White House with over 180 floats, vehicles, and pedestrians on foot taking part in the festivities. The Pride 2016 celebration as a whole began June 1st and included a 5K run and a concert presented by Hot 99.5 and headlined by Meghan Trainor and Charlie Puth. Melanie Martinez made waves with her performance of Mrs. Potato Head as well. The political gravity of the nation’s capital as a backdrop was not lost on participants “From ten years ago to now it has been so vast and so dynamic, I only hope it progresses even more than it has,” one participant Sarah Marshall told media outlet The Daily Caller. “From today, to tomorrow to ten years from now. That’s really all you can hope for. The type of progression you’d like to see your family and your kids live in.”


New York

New York’s Pride Weekend began with a rally in Hudson River Park on Friday June 24th. On Saturday the 25th a huge march down Fifth Avenue took place while the Hudson Street festival wrapped it up on Sunday with a performance by Fergie. The march included participants NY Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, activist Al Sharpton, and Dem. Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton. President Obama even came out to commemorate the 47th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and designated the Stonewall Inn as the nation’s first monument to gay rights.



Interesting to note is the popularity and attention that Pride is now getting in June. NBC News published a piece commenting on corporate support for the LGBTQ movement, and questioned whether that support is going to continue after Pride month? Similar corporate initiatives were launched after the historic Supreme Court ruling during the Summer of 2015 when gay marriage was legalized, but national attention has skyrocketed since, in part due to the Orlando tragedy in 2016.

"Gay people especially have a lens that is both welcoming and critical. We are always going to second guess why all of a sudden we are the flavor of the month," Bob Witweck, founder of LGBTQ-marketing firm Witweck Communications, told NBC News.

Nevertheless, the exposure is good, and will hopefully be everlasting.

"We believe that leveraging the power of important cultural moments to help inspire consumers to turn their awareness into action is our responsibility as a socially conscious and ethical company.” says Witweck. “Plus, we have tons of fun doing it!"

Needless to say, Pride 2016 was a success across the country and truly has inspired both action and awareness.

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