The History and Resilience of Pride

Happy Pride Month LEAFers!

Did you know that Pride Month is over 50 years old?! It was originally activated by the Stonewall Uprising in 1969. The incident happened June 28, 1969, and was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. During the 1960s, the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village was a gay club and asylum for some in the LGBTQ people group. On June 28, 1969, the New York City police struck the hotel, starting an uproar among bar supporters and neighborhood inhabitants with the police. The group included many individuals and prompted six days of protest and conflicts with law enforcement outside the bar on Christopher Street, in adjoining roads, and enclosed by Christopher Park.

The next year on June 28, the local queer community walked from the Stonewall Inn to Central Park in what was then called “Christopher Street Liberation Day” — creating what is presently known as the country’s first gay pride march. Since 1970, LGBTQ+ individuals and allies have gathered in June to walk with satisfaction and pride while fighting equal rights and visibility.

Pride month features the work and the fight for opportunity from the LGBTQ+ community. The month honors the impact that LGBTQ+ people have had on society from a worldwide focal point while also supporting individuals and inviting them to find pride and peace in their identity and take up more space.

Here at LEAF we are honored to be in community with fantastic members of the LGBTQ+ community, including Blue Ridge Pride and the Extraordinary Pride Queens. Furthermore, we are proud to have queer folk leading our organization in different capacities. What we are most proud of is the presence that queerness has in our world. As an organization that focuses on the arts, we encounter queer talents daily, and it’s a long known fact that the arts have been a quasi-safe space for queer individuals. From the drag queens of vaudeville shows to Little Richard and Oscar Wilde, the arts and entertainment have allowed for the flair of queer culture to permeate society in a impactful, lasting, and omnipresent way. The arts would not be what they are if it weren’t for the LGBTQ+ community. The world would not be the same. So as we celebrate pride month, we salute those who have paved the way, we see those who have asked for space, and we stand with those who need a steady shoulder to lean on. Happy pride.

Mayani is a Maasai boy from longido Arusha. He went to boarding school at 6 years old and lost his Maasai language and tradition. Since joining the LEAF program, he has learned to sing Maasai songs, practiced the ‘jump’ tradition and wear Maasai shukas (traditional clothing). Mayani is extremely happy and is currently teaching other youth the culture.