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  • YOUR GUIDE TO THIS YEAR'S TOP PRIDE FESTIVALS

    May 16, 2024 17 min read

    YOUR GUIDE TO THIS YEAR'S TOP PRIDE FESTIVALS

    JUMP TO: THE HISTORY OF PRIDE | THE STONEWALL RIOTS | WEST COAST PRIDE | EAST COAST PRIDE | MIDWEST PRIDE | PRIDE CALENDARS | PRIDE FESTIVAL FASHION | FACTS 

    The month of June brings so much to look forward to, the longest day of the year, six months until Christmas, and Pride.

    Pride Month is dedicated to the celebration and commemoration of LGBTQ+ individuals and to raise awareness about the issues many of them face. Cities around the world throw festivals complete with parades, parties, and concerts gathering to support those who face societal stigma and discrimination.

    Having a month dedicated to promoting equality, acceptance, and tolerance plays an important role in the progress of human rights and social justice. It serves as an important time to learn about the history, struggles, achievements, and contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals. And most importantly, it serves as an opportunity for people to gather in support and solidarity and to foster a sense of community and belonging, offering help to anyone that may feel isolated because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

    So take out your calendars and read on, you’ll want to mark a few of these down. I put together a list of some of the biggest Pride festivals that you won’t want to miss.

    Every year, Pride month is a chance to celebrate, support, and let whatever flag you want to fly, soar high and wide. And in just a couple of weeks, my friends and I will be joining thousands of others as we all gather in West Hollywood for the epic Pride Parade. I will be wearing my rainbow best, and feeling the power of unity as we all dance in the streets, but that doesn’t mean I will forget where it all started and what a privilege it is to partake in such a festival. 

    There are many people alive today that fought hard to destigmatize "homosexuality." They lived in a time when they were considered outlaws, psychopaths, and perverts. They were forced to love in secret, or risk their lives for just being themselves, because it was considered illegal to be homosexual. It’s hard to imagine that we live in a time where that wasn’t so long ago. Their struggles must never be forgotten and their stories must live on. 

    So to truly understand the magnitude of Pride, we must first understand a bit about its incredible history and the brave people that pioneered a global movement. 

    Plus as a little bonus, I’m gonna school you about who the very first gay couple ever recorded in history is. And no…it's not Bert and Ernie.

    But first…

    The History Of Pride

    When we hear stories of Pride, we think about the 1960’s but…

    In August of 1512 a group of young aristocrats in Florence staged what is believed to be the first gay rights demonstration by storming into City Hall and demanding that a senior justice official resign and that the council revoke all the sentences for those that had been exiled or refused office because of sodomy. And to their delight and efforts, they agreed. Go Italy!

     

    Now let’s jump to America many MANY years later. 

    In 1962, Illinois was the first state to legalize homosexuality. Go Illinois! I knew I loved the Midwest for a reason. However,  it would take years for other states to follow suit. And in the meantime people viewed "homosexuals" as sub par members of society. At school, children were brainwashed that homosexuals were bad and horrible things would happen to you if you were one. And the term "homosexual" took on a negative connotation and was even classified in the DSM-1 as being a "sociopathic personality disturbance." Many believed that homosexuals were psychopaths and the only treatment was conversion therapy, shock therapy, or in some instances lobotomies. Leaving many people forced to live their lives in secret so as to avoid scrutiny, being arrested, or even killed. 

    During this time, it was illegal for bars to serve gay people and many bars were threatened to be shut down if they were caught with "homosexuals" on their premises. Oftentimes these bars were raided and people were arrested if they were not wearing at least three pieces of clothing that represented the gender they were assigned to at birth. 

    Being in the fashion world, this especially hits hard. I can’t imagine being forced to wear clothing that does not feel natural to my identity. I have such freedom to wear what I want and to express myself as I want. And my heart aches for the people during that time that were afraid to go out in the clothing that they felt most represented them. And I'm aware that there are so many people today that still don't have that freedom. 

    As I write this, I understand my privilege and I do not take that lightly. I am blessed to live in Los Angeles and be surrounded by people that align with my beliefs. So I have a certain safety that I walk around with everyday. And I feel for the people that don’t live with that same kind of safety and who are afraid right now in this very moment to express themselves. My hope is that one day you are able to find the courage to fully express yourself in any way that makes you feel whole, worthy, and beautiful. And during Pride this year, I will hold the people I love a little closer, and send love to anyone who struggles alone. May Pride be a place where you see yourself in those that have the freedom to walk loud and proud and may you be inspired to one day be able to do the same.

     

    In the 1960’s many of the gay bars in New York City were being run by the mob. The bar owners would illegally pay them off so that they could keep their watering holes open to the public. And many of these bars were being threatened to lose their liquor license if they served alcohol to gays.

    The World Fair was headed to Flushing, New York and the then Mayor, Robert Wagner, wanted to clean up the city. So he started cracking down on bars that were frequented by people of the LGBTQ community and vowed to have them all go out of business one by one. He was so desperate to maintain order in the city that he started going into areas like the West Village where people were considered to go against the social norm and question authority. People like the queer community and Beatniks. Oh no!

    The police would go in and arrest individuals and force liquor distributors not to give a liquor license to those bars that were considered disorderly. And most of the bars that were considered disorderly were gay bars, because gay people were considered disorderly. Remember, the mentality back then was that "homosexuality" was a mental illness and something to be feared. People were conditioned to think of them as “less than.” And at the time, most people in the queer or trans community were forced into secrecy and rejected by society. There were laws in place that would prevent gay men and women from being served alcohol and to stop them from gathering in public. And people in the gay community were getting sick and tired of being discriminated against. 

    So in the Spring of 1966, three men from NYC’s Mattachine Society, a gay rights group, organized a “sip-in” at the infamous Greenwich Village gay bar, Julius. They marched up to the bartender and declared that they were gay and then requested a drink. They were denied service. And the trio accomplished what they set out to do, demonstrate that bars were discriminating against LGBTQ people. 

     

    But it would take three more years for a revolution to start... 

    THE STONEWALL RIOTS

    On June 28, 1969 at 1:20 am, the police made an unannounced raid at The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar on Christopher Street, that would change the course of history.

    At the time The Stonewall Inn, which was owned by the mob, did not have a liquor license and they were paying off the police to keep their doors open. They were blackmailing a lot of high profile patrons and didn’t want to give any of those additional kickbacks to the police. The police caught wind of it and paid a visit one fateful night. It coincidentally happened to be on the same night as Judy Garland’s funeral. So a lot more people were at The Stonewall Inn than usual and the general feeling was that of sadness and frustration. That night there were about 200 people gathered at the bar as the raid started. 

    Police officers sexually assaulted the patrons, by frisking female lesbians and feeling them up to make sure they were women, and forcing men to show their genitalia to check their sex. They were prepared to arrest anyone that was not dressed as appropriate for their assigned gender. And it was then that butch lesbian and Drag King, Stormé DeLarverie, got arrested. She was dragged outside the bar and loaded into a cop car. They hit her on the head with a baton and handcuffed her arms too tightly. She turned to the crowd that had been growing and shouted “Why don’t you guys do something?” And so people did. And from there, a riot broke out. She is attributed to being “the Rosa Parks of the gay community” and triggering a movement. 

     

    And although Stonewall wasn’t the first gay riot, it is the FIRST to be called the FIRST. There are many rumors and conflicting stories about what actually happened that night. Accusations of bricks being thrown and who it was that actually threw the first brick. Some say it was Marsha P. Johnson, a trans woman and activist. Although she claims that she hadn’t arrived on the scene until after 2 am when the riots were already in full speed. Many say that people were throwing Molotov cocktails at the police and attribute the first one thrown by Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson’s best friend and fellow trans woman. Sylvia has always maintained that she wasn’t the first to throw the Molotov Cocktail, but rather, the second. Many claim that they witnessed transgender women lining the streets as the tactical police force arrived and stood together in a line doing a “Rockefeller kick” shouting to the tune of Howdy Doody, “We are the Stonewall girls, we wear our hair in curls, we don’t wear underwear, we show our pubic hair!” And by then, almost 600 people had gathered on the streets outside the Inn and fought back. Enough was enough. And the riots went on for three or four nights (according to different accounts.)

    But it almost doesn’t matter exactly what happened. The details aren’t as important as what followed that night. The people at the Stonewall Inn set the scene for a revolution that was about to take place. And members of the LGBTQ community were paving a way to be seen and heard. And the gay liberation movement was born. 

    THE FIRST OFFICIAL GAY PRIDE PARADE

    A year later, on June 28, 1970, thousands of people gathered on Christopher Street in front of the Stonewall Inn and marched in commemoration of the riots that took place just a year before. It became known as The Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade and became the first official Gay Pride Parade. Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco had also organized their own marches on the same day.  

     

    Before the Stonewall riots, being gay was really taboo and something a lot of people felt they had to hide. But after the riots, queer folks started pushing hard for visibility and a voice in mainstream culture. That sparked a whole wave of queer books, music, movies, and art that not only brought the community together but also built a sense of pride.

    The riots really fired up the fight for LGBTQ+ rights and shone a spotlight on some serious issues like police brutality, discrimination, and violence against queer people. This momentum helped get important laws and policies passed—things like getting rid of sodomy laws, legalizing same-sex marriage, and expanding protections against discrimination.

    Then, in 1970, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera kicked off STAR, Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries. They set it up to support the most marginalized folks in the LGBTQ+ community, like gender non-conforming people and sex workers, giving them a helping hand and a place to turn to.

     

    That may have been a longer than normal history lesson from me, but I believe that in order to truly appreciate something, we need to understand its roots. We have the freedom today to laugh and dance and wear whatever we want in the streets and celebrate during Pride festivals across the world, but at one time, people didn’t have that privilege. We are far from over in the quest for freedom and equality for all, but we are in a much better place than those who came before us. I hope that during Pride this year, you remember the pioneers that made all of our parades, festivals, and gatherings possible. And from the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything you have done. 

    So now onto the PRIDE Festivities...

    THE WEST COAST

    LOS ANGELES PRIDE 2024

    Runs from Harvey Milk Day (May 22) through the end of June Pride Month (June 30) 

    Since it got its start in 1984, West Hollywood has really made its mark as a standout city in the U.S. for championing LGBTQ+ rights. The "Rainbow District" along Santa Monica Boulevard (and the place where my college boyfriend came out to me), is packed with historic LGBTQ+ hangouts, restaurants, and shops. It’s no wonder West Hollywood is always topping the charts as one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly cities in the country.  

    On May 31, WeHo Pride Presents Friday Night at the OUTLOUD music festival. The event is free to the public, but requires an RSVP to secure complimentary tickets, as event capacity is limited. Kesha will headline with additional performances by Adam Lambert, Monét X Change, Laganja Estranja & Morphine Love Dion, Niña Dioz, Jessica Betts, Owenn, and Venessa Michaels.

    The OUTLOUD Music Festival continues on Saturday, June 1, 2024 and Sunday, June 2, 2024 with a two-day concert experience featuring iconic headliners Kylie Minogue, Janelle Monáe, and Diplo + Friends. The full weekend lineup includes performances by Doechii, Ashnikko, Noah Cyrus, Trixie Mattel, Keke Palmer, Channel Tres, Yaeji, Big Freedia, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, VINCINT, and many more.

    On Saturday June 1, the annual Dyke March will take place. This motorcycle led rally will begin immediately following the women’s freedom festival, featuring KingQueen

    On June 2, at 12pm, the 54th annual WeHo Pride Parade will take place. The parade starts at Crescent Heights and makes its way to West Hollywood Park.  

    On Saturday June 8, Ricky Martin will be headlining the music festival, LA Pride in the Park along with Muna and Dominican rap star, Tokischa at LA State Historic Park 1245 N. Spring Street, LA 90012

    On Sunday June 9, the LA Pride Parade will be celebrating, marching, and shining bright for visibility, representation, and the right to be out, proud, and absolutely fabulous! This year, over 150 contingents are joining the march, rallying around the theme “Power in Pride.” They’re taking over Hollywood Blvd and the nearby streets, so come out and join the 150,000 people that will be celebrating and show your colors! 

    Stay after the Parade and enjoy the Block Party that will be going until the evening! There will be a performance stage, large vendor village, food & bevs, pop-up bars, and more!

    ACCOMMODATIONS AND TRANSPORTATION

    MisterBandB This amazing company was started after the founder had experienced judgment during a trip with his partner and felt the need to start a travel company that offered inclusive accepting options for the queer community. Check out their listings for safe and welcoming housing during your trip to Pride LA or whenever you’re traveling.

    RIDE WITH PRIDE Avoid the hassle of parking in Los Angeles, and be good to the environment, by using one of LA Metro’s convenient train or bus lines. LA Pride is accessible by public transportation and LA Metro is the proud Official Transit Partner of LA Pride. Look for future announcements about Pride TAP cards, new LA Pride wrapped buses and trains for 2024, station takeovers, parties, and more!

    SAN FRANCISCO PRIDE

    On June 3, the Mayor will raise the flag, which is the official start to Pride month. This tradition began in 1988 when Mayor Art Agnos became the first SF Mayor to participate in the Gay and Lesbian Day Parade. 

    From June 1-30 there will be a ton of events, leading up to the Parade and City Hall Party on June 30, with a special appearance by Billy Porter. 

    And here's a guide to California's Pride events

    THE EAST COAST

    NEW YORK PRIDE

    Join Kim Petras, Arca & Tokischa for the annual Pride Month concert on June 28 and 29 at Under the K Bridge in Brooklyn, New York.  Petras will serve as the evening’s main event, along with Horsegiirl, Slayyyter, Aliyah’s Interlude and more filling out the setlist. Then on Saturday, June 29, Arca will headline alongside Tokischa, with sets throughout the day from Sevdaliza, Bob the Drag Queen, Cakes Da Killa and more.

    On Sunday June 30 at 8 am, the largest Pride Parade in North America will take place, with tens of thousands of participants and millions watching from the sideline. The exact route for this year’s parade hasn’t been announced yet, but typically it kicks off at 25th Street and 5th Avenue, then heads south on 5th Avenue before proceeding west on 8th Street. After crossing over 6th Avenue, it continues on Christopher Street passing the Stonewall National Monument, then It turns north on 7th Avenue, passing the New York City AIDS Memorial, before ending at 16th Street and 7th Avenue. This year’s grand marshals are Baddie Brooks, musician, DaShawn Usher, senior director of communities of color and media at GLAAD, Michelle Visage, TV personality who is an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, and Miss Major, a transgender activist championing the rights of transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals to name a few.

    BOSTON PRIDE FOR THE PEOPLE

    On June 8 Boston will celebrate with a festival, parade and more! The parade will start at Copley Square and go through the South End to Boston Common, where an all-ages festival with vendors, food and music is planned and then City Hall Plaza will host a 21+ festival. 

    Provincetown 

    And because this is where I’m from (and it also happens to be one of the most beautiful places in the world IMO), I just had to add it to the list. Plus PTown is legendary AND it was the first time I saw a Drag Queen. I was ten years old and had the coolest grandparents in the world. My grandmother opened my eyes when she took me to a drag parade and then introduced me to the most beautifully dressed women I had ever seen. I was mesmerized by their sparkly dresses, long nails, and eyeshadow. I was gonna be one of them when I grew up. It’s many many years later and I’m still working on my lewks.

    FLORIDA

    Check here for a guide to pride events in Florida 

    THE MIDWEST 

    Chicago Pride 

    On June 30 at 11 am, the parade will start on Broadway and Montrose and head south, ending near the intersection of Diversey Parkway and Sheridan Road in Lincoln Park.

    The largest Pride Parade in the World

    On June 2, The Sao Paulo Gay Pride in Brazil which is considered the biggest gay Pride parade in the world (holding the record in the Guinness Book of World Records) will take place. Officially a five-day event, the party starts 3 weeks before with events such as concerts and performances, cultural fairs, street markets and more and will see over 5 million spectators and participants on the day of the parade. 

    PRIDE CALENDARS

    IGLTA (International LGBTQ+ Travel Association) Was founded in 1983 and is the world's leading network of tourism that welcomes LGBTQ+ people. Check out their long list of Pride events from all over the world. 

    Gaytravel breaks down a list of Pride events by the month for the entire 2024 year.

    Pridesource lists their guide the 2024 Pride Festivals around the world

    The Nomadic boys break down their picks for the top ten gay pride events in the world.  

    Xtra Magazine shares their list of the best Pride festivals in the world.

    WIKIPEDIA’S LIST OF LARGEST LGBT EVENTS

    And with Pride comes rainbows. And if you know anything about me, or have read any of my previous blogs, you know how I feel about rainbows. 

    And just as rainbows in nature are celebrated for their beauty and rarity, the rainbow flag celebrates the beauty and uniqueness of everyone in the LGBTQ+ community. The natural phenomenon of a rainbow, appearing after a storm, can also symbolize hope and a brighter future.

    Here's a fun fact, the original rainbow flag was created by artist Gilbert Baker in 1978. He was commissioned by Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in the U.S., to create a symbol of pride for the gay community. The flag was first used in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade and has become the most noticeable symbol of the LGBTQ+ community.

    Since its introduction, the flag has been altered and some new ones have been added. Check out all the flags of the LGBTQ+ community!

     

    PRIDE FESTIVAL FASHION

    At SpiritHoods we have some rainbow clothing that gives me all the feels for Pride this season. Plus everything we have is unisex, so we have lots of various sizes. 

    I’m still trying to decide what I’ll be wearing to each event. And of course, LA weather can be so unpredictable, so I will definitely prepare some options. 

    During the day, I love these cute rainbow python biker shorts paired with a crop tee and jean jacket. And for the evening festivities, I love this holographic rainbow snakeskin bodysuit!

     

    And depending upon how cold it is late night, I’m planning on wearing the rainbow bear ultra soft faux fur coat to all the fabulous parties I will be gracing my presence at. If you want some stylish options to  slay the day away  then check out two of my festival blogs, The Best Festival Fashion For Men and The Best Festival Fashion For Women.

    IMPORTANT ADDITIONAL FACTS ABOUT PRIDE AND THE HISTORY OF GAY RIGHTS

    Stonewall documentaries and articles

    How Stonewall Became Famous- The New York Times put out this documentary four years ago and has some great old footage.

    “The Stonewall You Know Is a Myth. And That’s O.K” Another one from The New York Times where they explore who threw the first brick. 

    “Stonewall Forever”- A Documentary About The Past, Present, and Future of Pride.

    “Respect Your Elders”  A reminder of how important it is to help one another and remember those that paved the way. 

    The Top 10 list of documentaries to understand The LGBTQ+ rights movement.

    This is a great article from The Daily Beast, with interviews from a trans woman that was at Stonewall on the night of the riots and from other activists that helped organize the very first Pride marches in 1970. 

    OTHER IMPORTANT FACTS

    Don't know what terms to use when speaking to or about the LGBTQ community, check out this glossary on the GLAAD website. It's important that we all educate ourselves so that we can make everyone feel seen, heard, and equal.

    And here's a list of LGBTQ slogans.

    Circa  2400 BCE the first gay couple was believed to be Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum, based on images of the two men standing nose to nose and embracing. They were buried in a tomb together and are recorded as the first recorded same sex couple. 

     

    Check this out for an informative read on the history of gay rights.

    The New York City Police Department apologizes for the Stonewall Riots on June 6, 2019

    "The actions taken by the NYPD were wrong, plain and simple," said O'Neill at police headquarters on Thursday. "The actions and the laws were discriminatory and oppressive, and for that, I apologize."

    "Homosexuality" as a Psychiatric disorder was removed from the DSM-5 entirely in 2013. 

    June 26, 2015 The Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to ban same sex marriage. However many states have enacted statutory bans against gay marriage, known as “defense of marriage” acts

    In 2022 President Biden signed the “respect for Marriage act” and as stated in Wikipedia, “It repeals the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), requires the U.S. federal government and all U.S. states and territories (though not tribes) to recognize the validity of same-sex and interracial civil marriages in the United States, and protects religious liberty.”

    In 2016, President Obama declared The Stonewall Inn a national monument. 

    Here’s a list of fictional gay characters on wikipedia. Clearly they are missing a ton, but since wikipedia gets its information from the people, anyone can add to it. So let’s beef it up and get it up to date!

    I certainly don’t want to leave this article on a downer, but it's important to note that in 2023, a record number of anti LGBQT+ bills were passed, highlighting how now more than ever, it is crucial that awareness continues to be raised and that we unite together for a safer, more loving, and inclusive life for our future.

    And remember..."Be careful who you hate, it could be someone you love."

    HELP AND RESOURCES 

    LGBTQIA2-S Resources for Mental Health in Los Angeles

    Advocacy and services for LGBTQ+  elders

    GLAAD

    The Trevor Project

    The LGBT Hotline

    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for LGBTQ+ Community: (800) 273-8255

    PFLAG

    Planned Parenthood

    HRC (Human Rights Campaign) 

    We love to see you in your SpiritHoods! Tag us on all your socials @Spirithoods in your PRIDE fabulousness! 

    And if you're going to any other festivals this season, check out my blogs, Your Guide To This Year's Electric Forest Music Festival, Your Guide to EDCYour Guide to LIB, and A Guide to some of The World's Best Festivals

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