The Rebellious Roots of Pride

June 2020 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Boston Pride Parade. While the COVID-19 pandemic has a great many LGBTQ+ people and their allies figuring out how to physically distance during Pride celebrations, another pandemic of police brutality and systemic racism has us working to connect and oppose all forms of oppression.

AFSCME 1526 supports all who protest racism and anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry. The first Pride was a spontaneous uprising from June 28 through July 3, 1969 by LGBTQ+ people against the New York City police department. That uprising has been celebrated and used as a platform in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights around the world ever since.

For more on the history of Pride, read this statement by our siblings at the Eastern Massachusetts chapter of Pride at Work, the official LGBTQ+ constituency group of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), of which AFSCME is a member.

The Pride marches in the early 1970s were sometimes scary. A lot of the people lining the routes did not support the marchers. But even in those early demonstrations, there was a great feeling of power from that coordinated act of gathering together. There was anger, outrage, a sense of power...and there was joy. Power was the goal, anger the tool, and joy the balance. We see all of that in the current protests against police brutality and systemic racism. It is a formula for success.

Never forget that it is the power of the people that enacts change. Without LGBTQ+ activists and their supporters standing up against bigotry, the recent Supreme Court decision that LGBTQ+ workers on the job are covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act would never have happened. Now our siblings outside of unions have this fundamental level of protection from discrimination. You don’t fight discrimination with more discrimination; instead, you fight back by standing together for social justice. Join with us as we work to enact change.