November 6, 2012, demonstrated convincingly that the LGBT community does not simply celebrate its Pride over a one or two week period annually in June. Last week, Washington state began issuing marriage licenses to all loving and committed couples, and for anyone who caught the photos and video coming from those celebrations knew Pride was in the air! What started as a nascent movement over 20 years ago to increase visibility and gain a seat at the table has been propelled by out, proud LGBT citizens voting, advocating, and ultimately helping to change the fabric and laws of the country.
Over the past 60 years, the concept of LGBT Pride has evolved in much the same way that levels of support for equal rights and increased laws protecting LGBT Americans have changed and expanded. During the 1960s we held "Gay and Lesbian Annual Reminders." The Christopher Street Liberation Day demonstrations took place in New York starting in 1970 to commemorate the seminal events that had occurred at the Stonewall Inn in June of 1969. From there, Pride marches and festivals began occurring around the country throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s. In 2000, then-President Bill Clinton issued the very first presidential declaration proclaiming June as "Gay & Lesbian Pride Month."
During those early days of Pride, even the use of words "gay" and "pride" to describe LGBT Americans was incredibly controversial. Participants -- and those who would have liked to participate -- feared that they would be outed and as a result face discrimination, job loss, or worse. In 1975, Deacon Maccubbin, who owned DC's Lambda Rising bookstore, organized a one-day, one-block party that allowed LGBT people from Washington and the surrounding areas to join together and validate our lives by using the terms "pride," "love," and "community" to express our feelings and emotions and publicly identify the group to which we belonged.
Today, LGBT people and families reside in every county in America and the fight for equality has become a full-scale movement taking place on thousands of fronts in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and in most towns across America. The fact is that LGBT Pride takes place every day of the year, not just during the month of June. Pride is the opportunity for the LGBTA community to come together; it is a celebration and a resource to be leaned on for support throughout the struggle for equal rights and acceptance. It manifests itself in ways both tangible and intangible in voting booths, houses of worship, athletic fields, PTA groups, at home, and in those countless offices where pictures of same-sex couples or their children are sitting on desks displayed openly with pride.
Earlier this year, Capital Pride, the non-profit organization that is responsible for producing the LGBTA Pride celebration in the Nation's capital, decided to move forward with a plan to promote "PRIDE 365" as part of its message. As demonstrated on November 6, Pride is not something we experience only in June. In its most visible form we celebrate with parades and festivals. But pride is an aspect of our lives and our community that we express every day in ways big and small. In fact, "PRIDE 365" isn't solely a message or theme, but includes additional events throughout the year to help build awareness and recognition around a broader spectrum of the full LGBTA community. And it is also the support and promotion of the many organizations and businesses that proudly and openly provide services to the LGBTA community regardless of whether those organizations and businesses are solely LGBT focused. The successes that occurred on Election Day were the result of many people coming together to take a stand for equality, including allies of the LGBT community. The fight for LGBT rights isn't solely a fight for LGBT people, it's a fight for all us who believe in equality and fairness - regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Election Day 2012 -- the most historic day for electoral support of LGBT equality since our country's founding -- may not have fallen during the month of June, but it was, nevertheless, a day of full of LGBT Pride. All of these achievements are the result of the continuous work by so many, and because of those efforts we are now able to express our pride 365. And for that we should be thankful. So, go ahead and take a moment to celebrate with our community of allies in your own unique way -- any day of the year!