Every year around the middle of June, the vibrant Stone Wall Pride Parade takes place in Wilton Manors. The parade is in celebration of LGBT communities around the world – but the blissful event has a rather somber beginning – the Stonewall Riots.
The Stonewall Riots
It wasn’t all that long ago, on June 28, 1969, when a riot broke out at the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in downtown Manhattan. Police would occasionally raid the club, but on this particular night, club-goers decided to fight back and protect their rights.
As a result, a full-on protest erupted, with police and community members battling it out through the night. It didn’t end when the sun came up, the clashing continued for an entire week.
This battle was what sparked the start of the gay rights movement. An important event in history that has transformed into a much grander movement for the entire LGBT community.
The Very First March
Around one year later, in March of 1970, the very first gay pride event was held in honor of the Stonewall Riots. It was called Christopher Street Liberation Day (CSLD). It was called a march, as opposed to a parade, as its roots were embedded in a sad place.
Fred Sargeant attended the event and gave a first-hand account to the Village Voice in 2010. He explained that there were “no floats, no music, no boys in briefs.” Instead, participants held up signs, marching to the chants of: “Say it clear, say it loud. Gay is good, gay is proud.”
“This was long before anyone had heard of a ‘Gay Pride March,'” Sargeant writes. “Back then, it took a new sense of audacity and courage to take that giant step into the streets of Midtown Manhattan.”
The Movement Spreads
Most major cities around the US have since adopted their own pride parade, and the tradition has even spread to some cities outside of the US.
The modern-day parades are nothing like the original somber marches that signified this dark day in history. Today, the parades are festive, fun, filled with bright colors, laughter, and dance parties. There are “best dressed in drag” competitions, along with other light-hearted contests. Creative floats make their way through the streets, and LGBT activists are often awarded and recognized for their efforts in the community.
Gay rights and equality have come a long way since the early days – especially in places like Wilton Manors where inclusion of all is a part of our city’s identity. Still, the parade must go on because there is still work to be done. Full equality is not yet a reality and there are still many people who fear coming out and showing their true colors.
Not to mention, the parades are a lot of fun! They bring joy to everyone who attends – gay or straight. For years these parades have been taking place, and still, there is no better place to take it all in than in Wilton Manors. We might be partial, but our city, so deeply rooted in the gay rights movement, knows how to throw one heck of a celebration.
You Could Be in the Parade
Why just attend the parade when you could create a float and be a part of the action?
Where’s the Best Place to Stay to Attend the Parade?
To be close to the action while still enjoying the peace and serenity of coastal Florida, look no further than Inn on the Drive. Within walking distance of Wilton Drive, literally a few steps out the front door, our bed and breakfast offers a cozy retreat on the brink of the action.
Tucked behind a sea of lush trees, we offer a select number of rooms to keep our premise as private as possible. Book ahead of time to secure your room.
Follow the Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade & Street Festival Facebook page to stay up to date on the latest news and events.