Pride in the 1970's

Picture from Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day with men holding a large sign
Men holding ‘Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day 1970’ banner while walking down the middle of the street in NYC. To mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising the previous year, gay activists organized a march from Washington Place to Central Park on June 28, 1970.

Photo by Diana Davies / New York Public Library

“We had a lot of questions starting but we didn’t even have our permit until that morning, so things were very much up in the air. We didn’t know how we were going to be received and we were pretty much hoping for the best and that is what we got.”-Fred Sargeant, Interview with Pridecast 2014

The events of the previous decades created the backdrop for the creation of the first modern pride march. This became more like the marches for what we see today, as compared to the events, like the Annual Reminders, in the previous decade. The term “Gay Liberation” had new meaning within the LGBTQ+ community after the Stonewall uprising. Groups like the Gay Liberation Front, the Lavender Menace, and STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, created by Silvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson) rejected their predecessors and often had more radical goals.. The old approach in the Annual Reminders and other early picket marches of dressing in suits and dresses with no displays of public affection was no longer accepted. On June 28, 1970, participants, organizers, and the public stepped out on the streets in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles to be loud, to be proud, and to show the public who they were. Not knowing what to expect from the public and the police, the participants in the march that stepped off in Greenwich Village numbered about 200 people. By the time they reached their Central Park destination, their numbers swelled to over 10,000 participants. Something was growing within the community, and it was much more public than ever before.

In the ‘70s, the United States would see more and more Pride parades pop up in major cities like Philadelphia, Washington D. C., and many others over time. This wasn’t exclusive to the United States: the events at Stonewall were a watershed event for this new kind of pride all over the world. London, Berlin, and Zurich had pride marches in the ‘70s, and more would occur in the future decades. The symbols for LGBTQ+ Pride began to change as well, from the pink triangle to the rainbow flag, which was debuted by Gilbert Baker in 1978. The furor gained by the Stonewall Uprising also helped public opinion begin to change in the medical community as well. In 1972, Barbara Gittings (from the Daughters of Bilitis) and Frank Kameny (from the Mattachine Society) tried to raise awareness for the medical definition of homosexuality of which was defined as a mental disorder in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the medical dictionary). The next year, they were successful in convincing a panel of doctors to change the definition in the DSM. A changing tide was within the LGBTQ+ community.

Part of a series of articles titled Pride Through the Decades.

Stonewall National Monument

Last updated: April 9, 2022