Celebrating Pride through history

Illustration of a crowd of people, some are holding pride flags

Pride is an annual celebration that takes place in June in the US (although other locations may celebrate at different times) that honors and celebrates all who identify as gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, intersex, queer, asexual, agender, and two-spirit. While June is a popular time for marches and other activities for the LGBTQIA2S+ community to come together and show their pride, it’s no secret that it’s taken many years of hardship and resistance to get to this place.

Join us as we look back on all that the LGBTQIA2S+ plus community has accomplished and overcome through the years to give us the freedom to loudly and proudly celebrate Pride today.


The origins of Pride month

Why do we celebrate pride in June? Pride commemorates the Stonewall riots, which began on June 28, 1969, when the police raided the Stonewall Inn bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Although the raiding of gay bars was nothing new at the time (nor was resistance from the customers), the Stonewall uprising was notable due to its six days of rebellion and became a key turning point in the LGBTQIA2S+ movement. The event sparked outrage and encouraged greater activism for the gay community across the globe, essentially kicking off the gay rights movement. In June of the following year, hundreds of people gathered to march down Greenwich Village’s Christopher Street, in what is largely considered to be the first Pride march.

Key moments through history

1533 in the UK: The Buggery Act is passed in England by King Henry VIII, making sexual relations between men a criminal offense that is punishable by death.

1885 in the UK: Parliament in England passes an amendment creating the offense of “gross indecency” for same-sex male sexual relations.

1870s in Germany: Same-sex male relations are criminalized in the German penal code with penalties including imprisonment and loss of civil rights.

1914 in the UK: The British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology was founded by Edward Carpenter and Havelock Ellis.

1919 in Germany: Magnus Hirschfeld opened the Institue for Sexual Science which specialized in sex research. He later helped sponsor the World League of Sexual Reform established in 1928.

1924 in the US: The Society for Human Rights was founded by Henry Gerber.

1946 in the Netherlands: Teh Cultuur en Ontspannings Centrum (The Culture and Recreation Centre) was founded in Amsterdam. Known as the COC today, the group emerged from a group of subscribers to the magazine Levensrecht (a magazine for homosexuals).

1950 – 1951 in the US: The first major organization for gay men, the Mattachine Society, was founded by Communist organizer Harry Hay.

1955 in the US: The Daughters of Bilitis, a leading civil rights group for lesbian women, was founded by Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin in San Francisco.

1958 in the US: The publication of a national gay periodical, “One,” was granted permission to be mailed through the U.S. Postal Service.

1957 in the UK: The Wolfenden Report recommended that private homosexual liaisons between consenting adults be removed from the domain of criminal law. Ten years later, this recommendation was implemented by Parliament in the Sexual Offences Act.

1969 in the US: The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City, is raided by the police.

1970s and 80s: Many political organizations proliferated across Europe and the US, such as the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, ACT UP (US), Stonewall (UK), and Outrage! (UK), and began agitating for legal and social reform.

1972 in the US: Jerry DeGrieck and Nancy Wechsler, the first openly gay government officials in the United States, are elected to the Ann Arbor City Council.

1976 in the UK: The International Lesbian and Gay Association is founded in Coventry, England. It is now headquartered in Geneva and known as the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association.

1980 in the US: The Democratic Party adds the tenet of nondiscrimination against sexual orientation to its platform.

1980s in the US: National Coming Out Day (October 11th) is established, encouraging gay men and women to become political candidates.

1983 in the US: Gerry Studds (D-Massachusetts) becomes the first openly gay member of Congress.

1998 in Canada: Glen Murray becomes the mayor of Winnipeg, Manitoba, making him the first openly gay politician to lead a city of that size within Canada.

2001 in the Netherlands: The first legal same-sex marriage takes place.

2003 in the US: Sodomy law is overturned in Texas and 12 other states.

2009 in Iceland: Johanna Siguroardottir becomes the first openly gay head of government as the Prime Minister of Iceland.

2011 in Belgium: Elio Di Rupo becomes the prime minister of Belgium.

2010 in the US: President Barack Obama signs legislation to end the ban on homosexuals in the military.

2013 in the US: The Supreme Court recognizes the right of same-sex couples to marry.

2020 in the US: Firing an employee for being homosexual or transgender becomes a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964).

2021 in the US: Pete Buttigieg became the first openly gay cabinet member.

The origins of the Pride flag

We all know that the rainbow flag has become synonymous with Pride, but where and when did this begin? Let’s take a minute to understand the meaning behind the flag before we use it in our designs.

It was in 1978 that the Pride flag first made its debut in San Francisco, designed by artist Gilbert Baker and featuring eight colors:

Of course, the six-color flag we more commonly use today (featuring red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple) was created due to a desire to split the flag in half for ease of decoration, as well as due to an unavailability of some of the fabric colors. This flag was originally used the following year in 1979.

In June 2018, however, the Pride flag received another upgrade from designer and activist Daniel Quasar to include a chevron to the hoist of this six-color flag. The added chevron represents marginalized LGBTQIA2S+ communities of color, those living with HIV/AIDS, community members who’ve been lost, as well as transgender and non-binary people. The chevron is positioned on the left edge of the flag and points to the right, representing that achieving equality is still in progress, especially for the communities that the chevron symbolizes. This version is known as the Progress Pride flag.

How to celebrate Pride as a business

While we’ve seen support and acceptance of LGBTQIA2S+ communities grow over the years, there is always so much more that can be done to help people feel welcome and celebrated during Pride, as well as throughout the year. Taking this month as an opportunity to show that your business supports and celebrates Pride is a wonderful way to do your part as an ally and lead the charge for even greater acceptance of LGBTQIA2S+ communities in everyday life.

There are many ways in which businesses can celebrate Pride this June. Some may choose to host Pride-themed events or release limited edition Pride-themed products (such as a rainbow-branded version of their usual products). Many businesses might make tweaks to their usual branding to show their Pride by integrating the flag or offer special discounts or deals in celebration of Pride month, while others will express their support using social media posts or by donating a cut of their proceeds to Pride-related charities. While these efforts should be made year-round, Pride is also the perfect time to amplify the voices of LGBTQIA2S+ influencers in your industry through collaborations and partnerships or by giving LGBTQIA2S+-owned businesses a social media shoutout.

Ready to get started and show your Pride? Adobe Express has a range of Pride-themed templates, perfect for showing your support this June.

Looking for more? Check out our full Pride template collection.

Try Adobe Express today