Gay Pride: Then & Now

Posted By: Gregg Girard DEI,

Gay Pride: Then and Now

2020 marked the 50th anniversary of Gay Pride. The original Pride Parade took place in New York’s West Village in 1970, one year after the Uprising at the Stonewall Inn. The Stonewall Riots happened in the summer of 1969 at a time when homosexual acts were considered illegal in most states. Restaurants and bars could get shut down for having gay employees or for serving gay patrons. During this time police raids were common but on June 28th,1969 members of the LGBT community fought back sparking an uprising that would launch a new era of resistance and revolution.  Over the following days and nights, gay activists continued to gather and share information and build the community that would fuel the growth of the Gay Rights Movement.  A year later, activists organized the Christopher Street Liberation March which inspired other cities like San Francisco, Boston, and Chicago to organize similar celebrations. Then in 1999 June became the official month for Gay Pride.

I remember going to my first Pride Parade in 1993 in Boston. I was 21 years old and not “out” to family and friends yet. The emotions I felt this day I liken to someone seeing in color for the first time. As a teenager in the 1980’s we really didn’t say gay; it was a derogatory word used in playgrounds and locker rooms and you did everything to separate yourself from it. Watching a parade with hundreds of people not only like me but those in the crowd that supported people like me changed me forever.  A year later I came out and moved to Florida to start a new life. Having no job or friends, the manager at my apartment community offered me a job as a Leasing Agent. I can remember a bit of fear and anxiety as I outed myself to the team not knowing how the maintenance guys would view me.  To my surprise, they treated me no differently and become my first friends in Florida.  I quickly got involved with the apartment association where again, I was accepted for who I was. Twenty-eight years later, after numerous promotions and tons of opportunities, I’m still here, I’m still queer and still thankful for that first Gay Pride in Boston that gave me the courage to begin my life.

Today’s Pride parades attract hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. In Orlando, we celebrate Pride in October and attract over 150,000 people to Downtown Orlando. Last year I had the privilege of marching side by side with my coworkers in the Parade to celebrate Greystar’s commitment to Diversity  Equity and Inclusion.

Given all the advances we’ve made over the past 50 years for Gay rights, one might wonder if we still need to celebrate Gay Pride.  The answer is yes, now more than ever, if only to reach that one person who still needs to see color for the first time. I’d like to close with a sentiment that I recently heard saying “I don’t need to understand you to love you.” Powerful words at a time when we need more love and compassion.

Interested in learning about ways to get involved in our DEI efforts? Email Chris Mahoney.