Washington’s pride won’t subside

Learn about Washington’s history of LGBT+ pride, and how you can celebrate this year

Graphic Made by Lillian Carpenter

“When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.” -Former U.S. President Barack Obama

One hot summer night in 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar that was a safe haven for the time’s LGBT+ community located in New York City. At the time, these sorts of raids were common in establishments known to employ or serve gay individuals, as homosexuality was a crime in every American state except Illinois. The Stonewall Inn had avoided being shut down thus far due to its ties to the mafia, who protected gay bars by paying off police officers and blackmailing their wealthy patrons.

Plainclothed police officers infiltrated the bar, cornering and arresting people for “masquerading” as the opposite sex, citing the three-piece law—an outdated law that was in place to stop farmers from avoiding tax collection by pretending to be Native American. Those who didn’t appear to be committing any crimes or could “prove ” that they were not crossdressing or trans through invasive checks were let go, joining the crowd outside.

Maybe it was the unbearable heat that night, or maybe it was the boiling tension under the surface and the gay liberation protests having humble beginnings, the anger within from being told that your happiness and self-expression was unlawful. Whatever happened to cause it, the routine raid on The Stonewall Inn did not go as expected. Instead, it fueled a riot that would turn America on its head, the spark that ignited a new era where it was an honor to declare who you are.

A year from that day, the first pride parade was held. Throughout the decade, LGBT+ individuals continued to make their voices heard, letting the world know who they were. These celebrations of self-expression didn’t stop in New York. The Stonewall Riots inspired LGBTQ+ people across the country to adopt the idea of “gay liberation”, the idea that someone’s sexuality is something to be embraced and celebrated rather than hidden and scorned.

Many organizations were formed in Seattle to protect and fight for the freedom of Washington’s queer communities throughout the seventies. It is thanks to organizations like these that Washington’s gay community was able to gain and maintain their rights.

Thanks to these protests, it is no longer illegal to be who you are. However, it’s a long journey to true equality. Pride is still important, and it will continue to be for a long time. Pride is not only a celebration of how far we’ve come in gay rights, but it is also another step forward in the long road to equality. At least 45 trans and gender non-conforming people were murdered out of hatred in 2020. The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) says that 204,000 people are victims of LGBT+ based hate crimes per year, and a good majority of them go unreported.

Gender Sexuality Alliance advisor Lynn Atchley celebrates pride month with a tasty rainbow cookie treat. “So because it’s pride month, I wanted to do something special for GSA, and a friend of mine found the recipe online and they just looked adorable “ (Lynn Atchley)

Equal rights for people of all sexualities are just as important today as they were in the original riots. It is important to celebrate pride in modern-day to celebrate the sacrifices made by those who were unashamed of who they were in a time where that was something punished. Lynn Atchley has been the Lake Stevens GSA advisor for two years. “In years past I’ve done like a hugging booth for moms. They usually do that on capitol hill for the capitol hill festival,” Atchley said.

Last year’s pride month was a difficult endeavor, with all of the celebrations taking place over virtual meetings and Zoom calls. This year is, unfortunately, going to be similar. COVID restrictions in Washington are being fully lifted on June 30- only a few days too late for Pride Weekend, which is June 26-27. However, Seattle Pride promises to be a more exciting experience than a lackluster conference call.

The virtual format won’t be the only change to Seattle Pride this year. Krystal Marx, Seattle Pride executive director, wants to bring back something at the heart of Pride- bringing people together through their desire for change. In response to the reception of last year’s events, 2021 Seattle Pride will have a higher focus on advocacy and change. The theme of this year’s event is “Resilience”. You can register for the event and learn more at Seattle Pride’s official website.