Why we are proud to be part of Pride

John Glenton, director of operations in Care and Support and chair of Spectrum

John Glenton, Riverside’s director of operations in care and support and co-chair of Spectrum, the LGBT staff group

Pride marches across our cities have become a familiar sight during the summer months, with families enjoying celebrations across the length and breadth of the country. 

This year, our staff and tenants are flying the flag for LGBT equality in Manchester, Liverpool, Hull, Newcastle and Carlisle.

I think it’s important to attend these events, demonstrating our commitment to diversity, for our colleagues and customers, and for our professional partners and the wider communities in which we work.  This year our LGBT staff group Spectrum has organised tickets, t-shirts and an 8ft banner with the Riverside and Spectrum logos, to increase our visibility.

Pride celebrates diversity and it is an opportunity for LGBT people to get together with their straight allies to party. 

However, the first Pride events were more a protest than a celebration. 

Before the 1969 Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village, New York, tensions were rising between the LGBT community and the police. People were subjected to arrests and harassment simply for being gay or trans.

The community found refuge at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village.  Visitors were able to go and be themselves for a cost of $3 and sign a membership register, however this was often with a false name.  There was an understanding between the bar management and customers that they would be warned when the police were to raid the premises.  On the morning of June 28th, 1969, the police raided the club and patrons decided enough was enough.  An altercation broke out, spilling onto the streets.  Word spread and more people joined in the riot.  This lasted for six days and marked the beginning of the modern gay rights movement.

A year after the Stonewall Riots people picketed in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia in a so-called Annual Reminder.  Gay rights had gained momentum, and the first Gay Pride march in the US was held 28th June, 1970.

In 1967 the United Kingdom Parliament approved the decriminalisation of homosexual acts in private between two men, both of whom had to be 21 or older.  But for many gay people, prejudice and discrimination remained part of everyday life.

The first official UK Gay Pride rally was held in London on 1 July 1972, the closest Saturday to the anniversary of the Stonewall riots of 1969.  Around 2,000 people took part.

Today Pride events are seen as celebration rather than a protest.  In other countries, such as South Korea and in Moscow, Pride events are banned, with participants facing arrest for gathering to demonstrate for the right to be who they are.  And despite giant steps forward, homophobia still exists here in the UK, that’s why we are continuing to put LGBT equality at the forefront of our work both within and outside Riverside.