★ “An indispensable and celebratory primer on the ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ rights. An excellent resource that is as thorough as it is visually appealing.” —School Library Journal, starred review
Like the original version, this new edition of Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle celebrates the LGBTQ+ community's diversity and the incredible victories of the past 50 years—but it also has a larger focus on activism, the need to keep fighting for equality and freedom around the world and the important role that young people are playing. The new edition has been updated and expanded to include many new Proud Moments and Queer Facts as well as a profile of LGBTQ+ refugees from Indonesia, a story about a Pride celebration in a refugee camp in Kenya and profiles of young activists, including teens from a Gender and Sexuality Alliance organizing Pride in Inuvik and a trans girl from Vancouver fighting for inclusion and support in schools. There is also a section on being an ally, a profile of a family with two gay dads (one of them trans) and much, much more!
Praise for the first edition, Pride: Celebrating Diversity & Community
“LGBTQ culture and rights are covered through the prism of Pride in this timely work...This attractive work will be welcomed by readers searching for guidance and hope.”— Kirkus Reviews
“Informative...Positively festive in its attitudes and outlook, this book more than lives up to the word celebrating in its subtitle.”— Booklist
“Upbeat and matter-of-fact...These stories, sad and happy, are where vulnerable preteen kids may see themselves.”— Quill & Quire
“An excellent and necessary addition for all collections.”— School Library Journal
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Stonewall Honor Book in Children’s and Young Adult Literature
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“LGBTQ culture and rights are covered through the prism of Pride in this timely work...This attractive work will be welcomed by readers searching for guidance and hope.”
“Informative...Positively festive in its attitudes and outlook, this book more than lives up to the word celebrating in its subtitle.”
“A visually appealing, quick, and thorough look at Pride parades and celebrations, how they came to be, and what they celebrate...An excellent and necessary addition for all collections.”
—School Library Journal
"Upbeat and matter-of-fact...As useful and appealing as this book will be to a general audience, there will be another group of readers seeking it out with more focus.”
—Quill & Quire
“Not only about celebration, but also protest and the future of acceptance…An eye-pleasing option for a broad audience and will lend itself to the conversation.”
—School Library Connection
“A fantastic achievement, a book that gives serious attention to often ignored groups within LGBT history…Highly Recommended.”
“This timely, attractive and cheerful book will engage any student from middle school and beyond...This book is a must-buy for all schools.”
“[Pride] does well to address the obstacles that the community has faced and puts names and faces to those who are the agents of change.”
Text copyright © Robin Stevenson 2016, 2020
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in PublicationTitle: Pride : the celebration and the struggle / Robin Stevenson.Names: Stevenson, Robin, 1968– author.Description: Revised and expanded.Identifiers: Canadiana (print) 20190180234 | Canadiana (ebook) 20190180242 | isbn 9781459821248 (softcover) | isbn 9781459821255 (pdf) | isbn 9781459821262 (epub)Subjects: lcsh: Gay Pride Day—Juvenile literature. | lcsh: Gay pride celebrations—Juvenile literature. | lcsh: Gay liberation movement—Juvenile literature.Classification: lcc hq76.5 .s74 2020 | ddc j306.76/6—dc23
The first edition of this book was previously published by Orca Book Publishers in 2016 (isbn 9781459809932).
Library of Congress Control Number: 2019943980Simultaneously published in Canada and the United States in 2020
Summary: This work of nonfiction for middle readers examines what—and why—gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their supporters celebrate on Pride Day every June.
Orca Book Publishers is committed to reducing the consumption of nonrenewable resources in the making of our books. We make every effort to use materials that support a sustainable future.
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
The author and publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information in this book was correct at the time of publication. The author and publisher do not assume any liability for any loss, damage or disruption caused by errors or omissions. Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders and to obtain their permission for the use of copyrighted material. The publisher apologizes for any errors or omissions and would be grateful if notified of any corrections that should be incorporated in future reprints or editions of this book.
Edited by Sarah N. HarveyDesign by Rachel PageFront cover photos by Norberto Cuenca/Getty Images and Perris Tumbao/Shutterstock.comBack cover and flap photos by FG Trade/Getty Images, Perris Tumbao/Shutterstock.com, MAR Photography/Shutterstock.com, Nickolay Stanev/Shutterstock.com, DanielBendjy/iStock.com, Daphne Channa Horn/Shutterstock.comAuthor photo: Stephanie HullLyrics to “Rise Up” courtesy of Lorraine Segato/Lynne Fernie/Lauri Conger/Steve Webster/Billy Bryans, Sony ATV Publishing
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Printed and bound in China.
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To my parents, Ilse and Giles; my partner, Cheryl; and my son, Kai, with love and gratitude. And to all the LGBTQ2IA+ kids and families out there—I wish you many happy Pride Days.
In memory of Kenneth Gerard Rogers (1954–1990)
Half Title Page
Table of Contents
Pride parade in Thessaloniki, Greece.Giannis Papanikos/Shutterstock.com
Every year, in many countries around the world, the LGBTQ+ community celebrates Pride Day. In big cities and in small towns, millions of people take to the streets to march in support of diversity, equality and freedom.
I went to my first Pride Day parade when I was still in high school. It was in Toronto, Ontario, in the late 1980s. These days, Toronto’s Pride celebration is one of the biggest in the world, but back then it was much smaller. It felt huge to me though! I was enthralled by the beautifully decorated floats, the extravagant costumes and the music, and I was blown away by the sight of thousands of people dancing in the streets. I felt as if I had entered a magical world—one in which everyone could truly be themselves.
A group of people in New York City show their support for Pride. isogood/iStock.com
I began attending Pride as a teenager because I had gay friends and I wanted to support them. A few years later, I came out myself and went right on attending Pride events as a proud member of the queer community. Now when I go to Pride, it is on the west coast of Canada, with my partner and our teenage son. He was only a month old at his first Pride Day! One of my favorite things about Pride is that it gives kids a chance to see that there are many kinds of families, and that all of our families are worth celebrating.
Pride Day is a spectacular and colorful event. But there is a whole lot more to Pride than rainbow flags and amazing outfits. Pride has a fascinating history—and it has always been a protest as well as a celebration.
A small child watches the Pride parade in Victoria, BC. Tony Sprackett
So how did Pride begin? How is it celebrated, both here and all around the world? What does Pride mean to those who celebrate it? And just as importantly, what does it mean to those who cannot? Keep reading to find out—and to meet some of the many young LGBTQ+ activists who are fighting to create a better world for all of us.
Celebrating Pride with my partner in Victoria, BC, in 2018. Kai Stevenson
A child waves a Pride flag during a Pride parade in London, England. Chris Harvey/Shutterstock.com
To understand the beginnings of Pride, you need to understand a bit of history. The world has not always been an easy place for men who love other men, women who love other women, and people who don’t conform to traditional ideas about gender. In many ways, and in many parts of the world, this is still true—but here in North America, we really have come a long way.
Chicago Pride parade. Sianamira/Dreamstime.com
Back in the 1950s, lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people (or LGBT people for short) did not have equal rights in Canada or the United States. It wasn’t just that they couldn’t get married—same-sex relationships were actually considered a crime! LGBT people didn’t have legal protection from discrimination, so they could be evicted from their homes and fired from their jobs simply for being who they were. Restaurants and bars could refuse to serve them. They could be arrested by police for being in gay bars or nightclubs, or for dancing with a same-sex partner.
“Equality means more than passing laws. The struggle is really won in the hearts and minds of the community, where it really counts.”
—Barbara Gittings (1932–2007), activist
But whenever there is oppression, there is resistance. People fight back—and that’s how change happens.
Activist Barbara Gittings, founder of the New York City chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis, picketing the White House in 1965. Kay Tobin Lahusen/Wikipedia
One of the earliest gay organizations in the United States was the Mattachine Society, started in 1950 by a small group of gay men in Los Angeles. It was named for a group of masked medieval performers—a reference to the fact that gay men in the 1950s were forced to live behind masks, keeping their relationships secret. The men who joined the Mattachine Society in those early days also had another dangerous secret to keep: many of them had links to the Communist Party, and at that time, being a Communist could cost you your job—or even land you in jail.
A few years later, in 1955, two women called Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon gathered together eight lesbian women in San Francisco. They wanted a social group—and a place where the group could talk and dance together without risking arrest. Like members of the Mattachine Society, they had to be secretive, and most members didn’t even use their real names. They called their organization the Daughters of Bilitis, after a fictional lesbian character in an obscure poem. If anyone asked, they could say they were just a poetry club!
in 1972, activists barbara gittingsand Frank Kameny spoke to the American Psychiatric Association to help educate psychiatrists about homosexuality. Many doctors still believed that homosexuality was a mental illness, so Barbara and Frank asked Dr. John Fryer, a gay psychiatrist, to join them. He agreed—but the climate was still so hostile for LGBT people that he felt he had to disguise himself. He wore a mask and used a special microphone to alter his voice and was introduced as Dr. H. Anonymous.
Gay rights demonstration in New York City, 1976.Leffler, Warren K/Wikipedia
“Gay is Good” bumper sticker. DCVirago/Flickr
More groups began to form. Their memberships grew larger, and they became less secretive—and more political. In 1965, an activist named Craig Rodwell came up with an idea that led to some of the first public demonstrations by LGBT people: the Annual Reminders. Starting in July 1965, small groups of courageous activists picketed Philadelphia’s Independence Hall each year, to remind Americans that LGBT people did not have basic civil rights. The first of these demonstrations had almost forty people marching, including members of the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis. They carried signs to let everyone know what they wanted: 15 MILLION HOMOSEXUAL AMERICANS ASK FOR EQUALITY, OPPORTUNITY, DIGNITY.
And momentum was building across the country. During the late 1960s, pickets and other protests also took place in New York, Washington, DC, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
bisexual activist brenda howard has been called the Mother of Pride. She was involved in the Stonewall Riots and continued to be a hardworking activist throughout her life. As a member of the Christopher Street Liberation Day committee, she came up with the idea of naming the days leading up to the march Gay Pride Week. Brenda actively promoted the use of the word pride to describe these events.
“What was it like being LGBTQ+ in the sixties? Never seeing yourself anywhere. Never hearing anything. Not even knowing the words gay, lesbian, trans. Finally hearing ‘homosexual’ whispered by adults you don’t trust. Being called tomboy, queer, sissy. Feeling shame.”
—KT Horning, queer children’s librarian
Frank Kameny attending Capital Pride in Washington, DC, in June 2010. The Pride parade route included a street recently renamed “Frank Kameny Way” in his honor. David/Flickr
One of the early American civil rights activists who took part in the Annual Reminders was Frank Kameny. In 1957, Kameny was fired from his government job for being gay. He was one of many Americans who lost their jobs during this era, because government officials thought gay and lesbian employees were vulnerable to blackmail by Communists. This fear, and the resulting persecution of thousands of gay men and lesbians during the 1950s and ’60s, has been called the Lavender Scare. During this time, the Canadian government also attempted to identify and eliminate gay men and lesbians from the civil service, the military and the police force.
Frank Kameny decided not to accept this treatment, and he sued the US government in federal court. It was a battle that went on for eighteen years, through appeal after appeal, and it gained a huge amount of publicity for the growing gay rights movement. Ultimately, Frank Kameny lost the lawsuit—but he helped to win the larger battle for gay rights. He started a Washington, DC, chapter of the Mattachine Society and kept on fighting. In 1975, after a number of lawsuits, the government’s anti-gay policy was finally changed. Today there are openly gay employees at every level of government.
“Justice triumphed. I was right, and they were wrong, and they admitted they were wrong.”
Activists like Frank Kameny not only helped change policy, but they also fought to change attitudes. In the 1950s and ’60s, many believed being gay or lesbian was a mental illness.
Activists argued against this idea, pointing out recent research published in two books called The Kinsey Reports. This groundbreaking research into a taboo subject showed that same-sex relationships were far more common than had previously been thought. Activists used the research in The Kinsey Reports as the basis for their statement that at least 10 percent of the population was gay or lesbian—and this was very significant in helping to shift public opinion.
In 1960s America, a cultural movement known as “Black is Beautiful” was taking hold and challenging long-held racist ideas. Inspired by this, Frank Kameny coined the slogan “Gay is Good” in 1968. It was an attempt to counter the shame often felt by LGBT people living in such hostile times. “Gay is Good” was a move away from secrecy—and toward Pride.
My friends Khalilah and Katie at a Pride parade in Victoria, BC. Their T-shirts read The first Gay Pride was a riot!—a reference to the 1969 riots at the Stonewall Inn. Tony Sprackett
“… the Stonewall Rebellion was the shot heard round the world…The gay liberation movement was an idea whose time had come. The Stonewall Rebellion was crucial because it sounded the rally for the movement. It became an emblem for gay and lesbian power.”
—Lillian Faderman, historian and author of Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers
Stonewall Inn, site of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, New York City. On the window: We homosexuals plead with our people to please help maintain peaceful and quiet conduct on the streets of the Village.—MattachineNew York Public Library/Wikipedia
In the 1960s, there weren’t many public places where LGBT people could gather. New York, which had one of the largest gay populations in North America, actually had a law that made it illegal for restaurants and bars to serve them. It was illegal for a man to dance with another man—or to wear clothing intended for the opposite sex! A woman could be arrested if she was wearing fewer than three pieces of “feminine clothing,” and a man could be jailed for wearing a dress. Police regularly raided and shut down gay bars, arresting staff and customers.
One popular gay bar in New York was called the Stonewall Inn. It was on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, and it was owned by the Mafia. The manager, known as Fat Tony, bribed the police with monthly payments so that they would turn a blind eye. It wasn’t a fancy place—in fact, it didn’t even have running water—but it was one of very few places where LGBT people could dance, chat, listen to music and be themselves.
Police raids weren’t unusual at the Stonewall Inn, even with Fat Tony’s bribes. Usually a few arrests were made. The bar shut down and reopened for business a few hours later. But on the evening of June 28, 1969, something was different. When the police arrested customers and began taking them to the paddy wagon, the crowd began to fight back.
The Stonewall Inn on June 24, 2016, the day President Barack Obama designated the Stonewall Inn and the land surrounding it as the first national monument dedicated to telling the story of the struggle for LGBT rights. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
As word of the demonstration spread throughout the city, the customers of the Stonewall Inn were soon joined by others from the gay, lesbian and transgender community. A crowd began to gather outside, shouting “Gay power” and throwing coins, bottles and bricks from a nearby construction site. It wasn’t long before the police lost control of the situation and had to barricade themselves inside the bar.
the stonewall riots are famous—but not nearly as many people have heard of the Compton Cafeteria Riot. Three years before Stonewall, trans women and drag queens fought back against police harassment and brutality in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. Gene Compton’s Cafeteria was a popular late-night hangout—but the management didn’t like the drag queens and trans women who gathered there. They would call the police, who would clear the place out, arresting customers for “female impersonation.” One night in August 1966, when a police officer grabbed a drag queen, she threw a cup of coffee in his face—and it was like throwing gasoline on a smoldering fire. People began throwing cutlery, flipping over tables and smashing windows. On the street outside, a crowd gathered, and dozens of people fought back as police forced them into paddy wagons. Amanda St. Jaymes is a transgender woman who lived nearby. “We just got tired of it,” she said. “We got tired of being harassed. We got tired of being made to go into the men’s room when we were dressed like women. We wanted our rights.”
Riot officers were called in wearing helmets with visors and armed with nightsticks and tear gas, but the crowd refused to give up. The conflict between the police and the protesters lasted until the early hours of the morning, and riots broke out again the next night, and the next.
“Stonewall happens every day… When you go to a Pride March and you see people standing on the side of the road watching and then someone takes that first step off the curb to join the marchers, that’s Stonewall all over again.”
—Virginia M. Apuzzo, American LGBT rights activist and educator, former executive director of the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force, born 1941
“I’m glad I was in the Stonewall Riot…that’s when I saw the world change for me and my people. Of course, we still got a long way ahead of us.”
—Sylvia Rivera, transgender activist and revolutionary (1951–2002)
Sylvia Rivera (second from left) at the fourth annual Christopher Street Liberation Day March, 1973. The LGBT Community Center National History Archive/Richard C. Wandel
In many accounts of the Stonewall Riots, a transgender street kid called Sylvia Rivera is said to have thrown the first beer bottle at the police. But Sylvia Rivera’s story doesn’t begin or end with Stonewall. Sylvia was born as a boy, to Puerto Rican and Venezuelan parents, and raised in poverty by her grandmother. After conflicts related to her gender expression—she began wearing makeup in fourth grade—she left home to live on the streets at age ten. Poor, Latina, transgender and often homeless, Sylvia knew what it meant to be an outsider, and she spent her life fighting to make the world a better place for the most marginalized people in the LGBT community.
Marsha P. Johnson at the fifth annual Christopher Street Liberation Day March in 1974. Leonard Fink Photographs/The LGBT Community Center National History Archive
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