Friday, June 24, 2011

New York Vintage Image: Gay Liberation March, 1970

We've come a long way, baby. One year after the Stonewall Riots rallied New York’s agitated gay men and lesbians into revolutionaries in 1969, a handful of the brave new generation of queers planned its first march "to affirm our pride, our lifestyle and our commitment to each other."

On the morning of June 28th, 1970, gay activists convened for the first annual Christopher Street Liberation Day March, making their way up 6th Avenue to Central Park. The march began with only a few hundred participants, however, by the time they reached the park, thousands had followed.

As you can read in this wonderful first-person account of the event, "There were no floats, no music, no boys in briefs. The cops turned their backs to convey their disdain, but the masses of people kept carrying signs and banners, chanting and waving to surprised onlookers."  

In those days, the term "Gay Pride Parade" was not even part of the vernacular, but counting on strength in numbers, the march made its way into the history books. The uprising around the world was undeniable: London, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco all followed New York's example, bursting out of the closet and into the streets.

More than 40 years later, every out & proud gay man and woman owes their freedom and liberty to those who defined history in 1970. As with most society-altering events, it's impossible to see the long-term implications of a seemingly simple act in the moment. But look at us now.
Indeed, look at us now, more than one million loud and proud!