As this weekend rolls around, LGBT people all around the city are getting their costumes, chants and rainbow paraphernalia together to celebrate Pride 2010. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the very first pride march (then called Christopher Street Liberation March) in 1970.
We've examined the events and protests leading up to the Christopher Street Liberation March but haven't yet gotten the chance to look at the event that occurred immediately afterwords.
After the march from Waverly Street, up Sixth Avenue, the crowd of thousands (quite an increase from the previous year's Reminder March turn out of 45) made their way to Central Park. Once there, they gathered for the first Gay "Be-In."
Gay "Be-In," Sheep Meadow, Central Park, New York, June 28, 1970. Diana Davies.
A reporter for GAY (a Gay publication out at the time) reported, " We got to the rock and threw our arms around our friends and kissed. We were gay and out in the open in Central Park and by god, we were proud."
Images from the event in the NYPL Digital Collections allude to what appears to be a big, gay field day. Groups of people organized lawn games in Sheeps Meadow playing Red Rover and rolling around in the grass.
Group playing "red rover" in Sheep Meadow. Kay Tobin Lahusen.
Group of men crawling in the Sheep Meadow. Kay Tobin Lahusen.
The media was everywhere, with reporters from The New York Times and Daily News as well as internationally with the French News Agency and Canadian Broadcasting.
Shockingly, the newspaper accounts portrayed LGBT people as a legitimate minority group working to combat discrimination instead of the sick deviants so often characteristic of LGBT news representation of that time. As the Village Voice stated: "[Gay people were] not the precious birthday party queers of "Boys in the Band," not the limp wrested, pinky-ringed sad eye faggots of uptown chic, but shouting men and women with locked arms and raised fists."
So this year, as the 40th Anniversary of Pride rolls around, take a moment to remember all of the people who made that event possible. Don your "Gay is Good" button, hop on your sparkly float and think about that first march and rally afterward where LGBT people were able, for the first time, to simply "be."
While you're at it, check out your local public library for books about LGBT Pride and celebrations like Gay Day: The Golden Age of the Christopher Street Parade, or The Last Sunday in June.