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Celebrating Pride Month 2024

June is Pride month! Discover the origins of Pride, events on this year, and why it’s still so important to advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights.

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Pride is a hugely exciting and important event all over the world, so we decided to explore it in more depth. Last year was the 50th anniversary of Pride – marking an incredible five decades of celebrating and supporting queerness. In this article, we’ll be discussing why Pride is such an important occasion for LGBTQIA+ people, how it started, and why we still celebrate it today.

There are some fantastic Pride events going ahead in the UK this year, so we’ve also provided some information about what’s happening and where. Finally, we’ll let you know about some of the ways we’re celebrating Pride here at FutureLearn.

What is Pride?

Pride is all about promoting the equality, self-affirmation and visibility of LGBTQIA+ people, by creating a community and safe space for people to be who they are. The word ‘Pride’ in this sense was first used by Brenda Howard, the organiser of the first LGBTQIA+ Pride March in the wake of the Stonewall Inn riots of 1969. And, while the origins of the choice of that word may be lost to time, it’s a term that’s become meaningful to the community ever since. Pride is about encouraging people to speak up proudly.

Pride events usually involve a series of marches and parades with performances, music, colourful dress and an abundance of rainbow flags. In the UK, June is traditionally Pride month, but there will be Pride events across the country throughout the next few months. 

There is also such thing as LGBT+ History Month, a celebration that takes place in February each year. You can find out more about it in our Celebrating LGBT+ History Month blog post. 

What about Black Pride?

Black Pride was founded by Phyll Gyimah-Opoku, known as Lady Phyll, in 2005. What started as a small gathering of black lesbians has become a national celebration for LGBTQIA+ people of African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American and Caribbean backgrounds.

The creation of a separate Black Pride event arose from the recognition that LGBTQIA+ people of colour have different experiences than white LGBTQIA+ people. They felt like Pride failed to recognise some of these differences and wanted to create an event and community where LGBTQIA+ people of colour have a voice and intersectionality is explored.

In addition, Stonewall research shows that 51% of BAME LGBTQIA+ people have faced discrimination from within the community. This further confirms the need for the Black Pride movement, so that no one feels ostracised or unrepresented in the queer community.

When did Pride start?

The first Pride event took place in London in July 1972, with about 2,000 people taking part. It was created as a response to the Stonewall Riots that occurred in New York, in 1969. In the early hours of one June morning, there was a police raid at Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. Raids such as these had become fairly common – at the time, cops were arresting people for doing drag or wearing clothes that didn’t align with their perceived gender.

However, this raid was different, as it triggered rioting that saw members of the LGBTQIA+ community fighting back against police brutality for three nights. These riots can be seen as an explosion of frustration within the LGBTQIA+ community in response to the increasing antagonism towards them. Not only did the Stonewall Riots ignite LGBTQIA+ activism in the US, but they also led to the birth of Pride.

What do the Pride flag colours mean?

The original Pride flag is the famous rainbow flag, created by gay artist Gilbert Baker. It was designed in 1978 after Harvey Milk, San Francisco’s first openly gay elected official, asked Baker to design a symbol for Pride. Some people in the LGBTQIA+ community desired to reclaim the pink triangle from the Nazis, but many felt that the community deserved a new symbol without such a dark history.

When Baker had a vision of a rainbow flag at a bar, he decided that it would be the perfect LGBTQIA+ symbol, with each colour representing something different about the community. Initially, the flag consisted of eight colours, but it was soon changed to a more practical six: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.

As times have changed and discussions in the LGBTQIA+ community have progressed, a more inclusive flag has been created. The Progress Pride Flag encapsulates all members of the LGBTQIA+ community including people of colour and the trans community. It was designed in 2018 by Daniel Quasar and adds black and brown stripes for people of colour and the colours of the Transgender Pride flag to the original rainbow.

What has Pride achieved since the movement began?

There has been a phenomenal amount of progress in the LGBTQIA+ community since the emergence of Pride, which demonstrates just how important it is. We still have such a long way to go before LGBTQIA+ people are treated equally across the globe, but there are still some notable achievements to highlight.

Changes in legislation

Many legislative changes have been pushed forwards by Pride and LGBTQIA+ activism. Below we’ve included some important dates of LGBTQIA+ legislation around the globe, though this is not an exhaustive list by any means: 

  • 1992: WHO declared that homosexuality was not an illness
  • 2001: The Netherlands became the first country to officially recognise same-sex marriage
  • 2002: Homosexuality decriminalised in China
  • 2002: Gay people allowed to adopt children in the UK
  • 2005: Civil partnerships allowed in the UK
  • 2010: Gay people allowed in the US military
  • 2010: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Act in the UK protects LGBTQIA+ people from discrimination
  • 2013: Same-sex marriage legalised in England and Wales
  • 2014: Same-sex marriage legalised in Scotland
  • 2018: India’s Supreme Court decriminalises homosexuality
  • 2020: Same-sex marriage legalised in Northern Ireland
  • 2022: Same-sex marriage legalised in Switzerland, Chile and Slovenia.

More representation and inclusivity

The impact of Pride can’t only be measured by changes in legislation, even though law changes are a very important part of achieving progress. We also need to consider general attitudes towards LGBTQIA+ people in society, and the role of gender norms

Representation in media such as music, television, film and magazines has increased dramatically since Pride began, with many shows such as Drag Race and Queer Eye becoming much more mainstream. We’re also seeing many more celebrities coming out as queer, trans and non-binary. 

GLAAD’s Where We Are on TV Report tracks the progress of LGBTQIA+ representation on TV each year. In their 2022-23 report, they counted 139 LGBTQIA+ characters on primetime scripted cable originals, which is a very slight increase compared to the previous year. Unfortunately, compared to last year, there have been some slight decreases (fewer LGBTQIA+ series regulars, fewer bisexual characters, and several show cancellations), but there’s definitely been a lot of improvement over the years.

You can explore the relationship between media and culture in a case study of LGBTQIA+ representation in our Understanding Media: Introduction to Media Literacy and Representation course by the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Another notable achievement is that LGBTQIA+ education has become a part of the UK education curriculum after being voted in by UK Parliament in 2019. The ban on promoting homosexuality in UK schools was only overturned in 2003, so creating an inclusive curriculum is a significant progression.

As Lisa Hallgarten writes in our open step by Humanists UK, “RSE must be relevant to and inclusive of all students by acknowledging LGBT people’s lives and relationships in relation to different family types; and as people with the same aspirations and rights to romantic and sexual relationships as heterosexual people. Excluding LGBT people from RSE can lead to disengagement with lessons and reinforce feelings of isolation”.

Why is Pride still so important today?

Pride is so important because it continues to provide LGBTQIA+ people with a community, a safe space, and the chance to celebrate who they are and who they love without shame. In addition to this, there is still so much more progress to be made, and Pride is one of the ways we can draw attention to LGBTQIA+ issues, injustices and achievements all over the world.

There are still 67 countries that have laws criminalising homosexuality, and the queer people in these countries need us to continue fighting for their right to exist. In addition, there is more to do in the UK to fight for LGBTQIA+ rights

The National LGBT Survey: Summary report in 2019 found that LGBTQIA+ respondents were less satisfied with their lives compared to the general UK population, and more than two-thirds of respondents said they had avoided holding hands with their same-sex partner out of fear of a negative reaction. Pride needs to exist so that we can continue to change statistics such as these.

 A resurgence of anti-LGBTQIA+ ideology

People often talk about how now is the best time to exist as a queer person in many countries. Representation is better, more countries are decriminalising homosexuality, and nations are increasingly legalising gay marriage.

Sadly, not everywhere in the world is continuing to progress when it comes to LGBTQIA+ rights. In recent years, we’ve actually seen some shocking regression, particularly in the US, and Central and Eastern Europe.

In Poland and Hungary, to name two of the most extreme examples, there’s been an increase in anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation and homophobia witnessed both online and in physical spaces. Poland even had “LGBT-ideology free zones” across areas of the country in 2021, which felt archaic for the time we’re in.

In even more recent news, many states in the US have proposed so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bills. These bills vary slightly depending on the state, but they essentially order teachers to refrain from talking about sexual orientation or gender identity to students, under the guise that LGBTQIA+ education (or even discussion) is a form of “indoctrination”. 

Anti-transgender ideology and legislation

Anti-transgender ideologies have become rampant over the last year or so, with anti-trans legislation in the US being at the forefront of government priorities and media coverage. There have been 71 anti-trans bills passed across the US this year already, related to topics such as sports, gender-affirming care, bathrooms, drag shows and sex education.

And it’s not only the US trying to reverse progress – the UK government is currently seeking to amend the 2010 Equality Act to redefine “sex” as “biological sex”, which would make it much more difficult for transgender identities to be recognised, and easier to ban transgender people from single-sex spaces.

This rise in dangerous ideology is even more of a reason for us to keep celebrating Pride, advocating for LGBTQIA+ rights, and educating the world about important issues like intersectionality, gender norms, and LGBTQIA+ history.

When is Pride 2024?

This year, the annual London pride event will be held on the 29th of June. There are many more Pride events across the UK, so we recommend you check the Pride events calendar for a complete guide.

Learn about LGBTQIA+ issues with FutureLearn 

Here at FutureLearn, we believe that everyone has the right to be themselves without fear of negative consequences. If you want to learn more about LGBTQIA+ issues and celebrate Pride with us, we have a Pride 2024 course collection page where you can check out all of our relevant courses. We’ve also highlighted three of our favourites below.

Education is so important when it comes to making positive change, so we hope you learn something valuable about the LGBTQIA+ community and join the fight to secure their rights.

Our LGBTQIA+ online courses

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