Around the country, and around St. Francis House, June is Pride month – a time to celebrate all members of the LGBTQ+ communities.
The 1950’s and early 1960’s saw the emergence of what was to become the gay rights movement. Back then, if you were gay or transgender, you were likely living a very closeted life. Revealing your true identity was a risk. You could lose your housing, your job, your family, your friends, and your community. To be gay or trans meant being subject to ridicule, violence, and arrest.
Slowly and quietly, demands to be treated equally and with dignity were being made, although not exactly heard.
Then, in late June 1969, a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons decided that slowly and quietly were not working. When police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village – police raids on gay establishments were a common occurrence in cities around the country – the bar patrons decided to fight back.
The Stonewall Uprising extended over the next several days. Members of the community were galvanized. Activists focused on making sure there were places where they could be themselves without risking arrest.
In June 1970, to commemorate the anniversary of Stonewell, the first Pride parades were held in New York and a number of other cities. Over the next few years, gay rights organizations and Pride celebrations would spring up across the country, and throughout the world.
Stonewall is widely viewed as the catalyst for the gay rights movement. Tremendous strides have been made since this moment, including the widening of the definition of gay rights to include trans and other groups, and the transformative Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage in 2015.
Boston’s first Pride parade took place in June, 1971. Unfortunately due to the covid-19 pandemic, last year’s parade was canceled and this year’s event has been tentatively postponed until this fall.
Nonetheless, we see signs of pride displayed all over Boston, with many stores and other businesses proudly flying Pride’s rainbow colors.
At St. Francis House we are showing our pride, too, displaying the Pride colors on signage throughout the building, including the poster that hangs over the entrance to our dining room. This is the work of Gurleen Anand, who runs our Expressive Arts Center. Gurleen is offering guests the opportunity to work on some Pride-themed art projects.
As our Pride sign says “Everyone is welcome here.” This is the philosophy that St. Francis House lives by. Many of our staff members, guests, volunteers, and supporters are proud members of LGBTQ+ communities. Others struggle with their gender identity. For them, as we do for all those who walk through our doors, we offer support and a safe haven where anti-LGBTQ+ behavior is not accepted.
Happy Pride Month to all!