From Compton's Cafeteria to Stonewall: How 50 Years of Protest Evolved Into Pride Month
June of 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of New York City's first Pride march, which took place one year after the 1969 Stonewall uprising. At the first New York City Pride parade, between 3,000 and 5,000 people marched. By 2019, 115,000 people would march in New York City's Pride parade, and an estimated 4,000,000 people would attend.
The International LGBTQ+ Travel Association credits Pride parades and marches around the world with contributing to the increased visibility of and attention paid to LGBTQ+ rights movements worldwide. Learn about where and how the protests and confrontations that are now commemorated annually at Pride first took place to better understand LGBTQ+ history and progress.
May 1959: The Cooper Do-nuts Riot, Los Angeles
What is often called one of the United States' first LGBTQ+ uprisings occurred at a Los Angeles coffee shop in May of 1959. Police went into Cooper Do-nuts, a place that was a well-known hangout where "gay men, transwomen, hustlers and drag queens" gathered. Police entered and demanded that patrons surrender their identification so they could compare the gender stated on the identification with each customer's appearance and gender presentation.
September 1964: Whitehall Induction Center Picket, New York
The United States military has a history of not just rejecting applications from gay men who sought to serve but also of outing those men by not keeping their draft records confidential. In September 1964, protestors picketed that practice outside the Armed Forces Examination and Entrance Station at 39 Whitehall Street in Manhattan.
August 1966: Compton's Cafeteria, San Francisco
Compton’s Cafeteria was a popular restaurant in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. It became a commonly frequented hangout for transwomen, drag queens and gay performers because it was open 24 hours a day. The restaurant’s workers often called the police on these patrons in an effort to prevent them from gathering.
February 1967: Black Cat Tavern, Los Angeles
Hundreds of protestors picketed outside the Black Cat Tavern in Los Angeles' Silver Lake district in February 1967. The protests were born early on New Year's Day when armed undercover police charged the tavern and beat revelers using pool cues and clubs.
August 1968: The Patch Bar, Long Beach
The Patch Bar's clientele included gay men and women, and even local roller derby participants. Police had warned bar owner Lee Glaze that they'd shut the bar down unless he ended the drag performances and prevented men from dancing with each other. Glaze gave up trying to enforce the police's rules; they were costing him business. He took a new tack. When Glaze saw undercover officers in the bar, he played "God Save the Queen" on the jukebox to warn patrons.
June 1969: Stonewall, New York City
The Stonewall Inn in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village didn't have a liquor license or running water. But it was the only "homophile bar" — "homophile" being a dated term for gay people — in New York that allowed dancing. Stonewall attracted Latino, Black and white patrons in addition to gay men and women, trans people, drag queens, sex workers and people who lived in a local park.
June 1970: Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade, New York City
On the one-year anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall raid, the first Pride parade was held in New York City. It wasn't called a Pride parade yet; it initially was a march held during Christopher Street Liberation Day. This event was part of the first Gay Pride week and was intended to commemorate the Christopher Street uprisings — an alternate name for the Stonewall uprising based on the name of the road where the Stonewall Inn is located. As many as 5,000 people marched at this demonstration — which came to be known as the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade — that was meant to protest the centuries of abuse gay people had endured.