In 1999 President Bill Clinton issued a proclamation designating June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.

“I encourage all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that celebrate our diversity, and to remember throughout the year the gay and lesbian Americans whose many and varied contributions have enriched our national life,” said President Clinton.

Photo by: Sharon McCutcheon, Unsplash.

June was chosen as Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall Riots which took place on June 28, 1969. At the time, the LGBTQIA+ community was facing some of the most extreme persecution in the country’s history, and bars and restaurants were faced with being shut down for serving gay customers or having gay employees. On that night in 1969, when encounters with the police were growing increasingly violent and dangerous, queer communities took a stand against the brutality. For three days, hundreds of people gathered to protest against unfair police discrimination, harassment, and violence against the LGBTQIA+ Communities in the streets of Lower Manhattan centered at Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York City.  These protests are often considered the pivotal moment leading to the gay liberation movement and the 20th century fight for LGBTQIA+ rights in the United States.

However, according to Dr. Ian Barnard, Professor of Rhetoric & Composition and Director of LGBTQ Studies in Wilkinson College, the LGBTQ activist movement started years before that night in 1969.

“While Stonewall was important, there were also important LGBTQ activist movements and events that happened before Stonewall (especially in Southern California–e.g., the Coopers Donuts clash in 1959 and the Black Cat demonstration in 1967–both in LA), and it’s unfortunate that they tend to get eclipsed by Stonewall, which has become canonized as THE significant event in US LGBTQ history,” they said.

According to, in May 1959, a group of drag queens refused arrest for hanging out in Cooper’s Donuts, a popular gay meeting place. That night is widely considered to be the first gay uprising in modern history, seven years before the Black Cat Riot in L.A.’s Silverlake neighborhood, and ten years before the Stonewall Rebellion.

On the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the first organized Pride Parade celebrations took place around the country, in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, and New York.

“Celebrations of Gay pride are to recognize how far we have come, to remember those less fortunate who came before us and to remind those who may have grown complacent, how far we still must go to achieve true equality.” – The Stonewall Inn

Learn more about the LGBTQ Studies in Wilkinson College.

Did you know?

The rainbow flag (a symbol of the LGBTQIA+ Community) was created by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker, an openly gay activist, in 1978. The colors in the flag have varied over the years, but what hasn’t changed is what the flag represents – “diversity” in the gay community.

Photo by: Drahomi Posteby Mach, Unsplash.

What the colors represent:

  • Red = Life
  • Orange = Healing
  • Yellow = Sunlight
  • Green = Nature
  • Blue = Serenity
  • Purple = Spirit

Below are just a few Pride Month events happening in Orange County!

  • June 12, 1-2:30 p.m.
    2021 Virtual Lavender Graduation
    Online event, register online!
  • June 13, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. (ages 5-11); 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. (ages 12-17)
    Youth Picnic & Paint
    Tustin Sports Park, 12850 Robinson Dr., Tustin
  • June 15, 22, 29, 11 a.. – 1 p.m.
    LGBTQ Youth Convening 2021
    Online event, learn more!
  • June 18, 6-7:30 p.m.
    Language of Inclusivity: Toxic Masculinity
    Online event, register online!
  • June 20, 12 p.m.
    OC Pride Presents Mimosa Girls Drag Brunch
    Strut Bar & Night Club, 719. W 19th St., Costa Mesa
  • June 24, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
    Pride Farmers Market
    Downtown Anaheim, Center Street
  • June 25, 8 p.m.
    OC Pride Presents Hedwig & The Angry Inch
    The Frida Cinema, 305 E. 4th St., #100, Santa Ana
  • June 26, 11 a.m.
    Pride Event: Find Your Way to #GiveBack
    Online event, register online!
  • June 26, 2-5 p.m.
    OC Pride Tiki Booze Cruise
    700 E. Edgewater, Newport Beach
  • June 26, 6 p.m. – 2 a.m.
    The Official OC Pride Closing Party
    Strut Bar & Nightclub, 719. W 19th St., Costa Mesa