The first annual Gay Pride marches were held on or near June 28, 1970—the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots—in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. These early marches, originally called the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parades after the street on which the Stonewall Inn was located, concentrated on political activism and securing rights for the individuals in the LGBTQ community. These marches were not the first attempts to secure equal rights for the LGBTQ community. Frank Kameny had organized a demonstration known as the “Annual Reminder” in Philadelphia starting in 1964, in which participants dressed conservatively and refrained from expressing public affection. Emboldened by the events at the Stonewall Inn in 1969, activists decided a more radical approach was necessary to secure their vision of a more accepting future. After the first Christopher Street Liberation Day Parades in 1970, the event spread to more cities across the United States, eventually adopting the name PRIDE, an acronym for Personal Rights in Defense and Education. The term Pride to describe the marches, parades, and other festivities has come to signify an activist movement and a critique of space that openly embodies and embraces the political and cultural acceptance of the LGBTQ community in public social life.
Nine years after the first Gay Pride marches, Birmingham held its first Pride celebration on June 24, 1979. Known as “Day in the Park,” the celebration was sponsored by Lambda, Inc., a Birmingham-based gay rights organization founded in 1977. The first Pride parade in Birmingham occurred in 1989, adding to the activities included in the “Day in the Park,” which grew to become a week-long celebration known as Central Alabama Pride.
While most of the materials chosen for this exhibit reflect the first few years of the Central Alabama Pride parade, there are also additional materials from other Pride celebrations in the South and across the nation.