June is Gay Pride month across the country. It was chosen to commemorate the Stonewall Riots which occurred on June 28, 1969 and marked the birth of the Gay Liberation movement. Pride is about living without fear, it’s speaking out against discrimination while embracing your identity, it’s about taking ownership of your life and not being a victim to bigotry, hate, or violence.
Because June is hot in the Sonoran Desert, the Phoenix Pride parade and celebration happens in April. But in the early days (i.e. the late 70s, Pride was celebrated in June.)
Of course there were gay men and women in Phoenix during the 60s and 70s and by 1977 a small group of people began publishing Sunday’s Childe, the first newsletter written by and for the LGBT community in Phoenix.
This first LGBT newsletter in Phoenix, Sunday’s Childe, was published monthly from 1977 to about 1981. It was typed on a typewriter and the early issues had no author names or contact information other than a PO Box. The newsletter covered local news, issues about bills before the legislature, information about community meet-ups, holiday parties, people searching for roommates, etc. As the months went on, names and phone numbers began to appear. In one issue a sidebar column of text said something like, “If you’re a lesbian and feel like you have no one to talk to, call this number and someone will answer.” Sigh…
1977 was not that long ago so it is astounding to see how much progress has been made in the fight for gay rights. I mean, we’re on the verge of full marriage equality in this country! (I’m writing this on the day that DOMA was declared unconstitutional.) Phoenix now has 3 monthly, quality publications that serve the LGBT community. Authors use their names, have head shots and list lots of ways to get in touch with them. During this Pride month, it’s important to remember that the freedom and safety we enjoy today has not always been the norm. It has been won by a hard fight from brave men and women who had enough pride to stand up for themselves, to come out of the closet and come into the streets who demanded liberty and justice for all.
We’ve made so much progress but there is still so much more to do. Be out. Be Proud. Be Yourself.
Happy Pride Month.