June marks 50th anniversary of LGBTQ+ Pride traditions in the US

San Antonio drag queen reflects on Pride Month meaning

SAN ANTONIO – June 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of LGBTQ+ Pride traditions in the United States, and Monday is the first day of Pride Month.

According to the Library of Congress (LOC), Pride Month is held each year in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the U.S.

Marsha P. Johnson -- an activist who self-identified as a drag queen, performer and survivor -- was a prominent figure in the Stonewall Uprising, according to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute (MPJI).

Johnson was key in the uprising that began June 28, 1969, after police raided the Stonewall Inn gay bar. Patrons fought back and protested for the next six days.

"We were too busy throwing over cars and screaming in the middle of the street, ‘cause we were so upset ‘cause they closed that place," Johnson said during an interview with historian Eric Marcus in 1989. "We just were saying, no more police brutality and, oh, we had enough of police harassment in the Village and other places."

The first Pride March was held in New York City on June 28, 1970, on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, according to the LOC.

Between 3,000 and 5,000 marchers attended the inaugural Pride March, and most recently, the number of marchers is in the millions in New York City, the LOC says.

Today, celebrations during Pride Month include parades, picnics, parties, workshops, concerts and performances, such as drag queen shows.

In San Antonio, drag queen Tencha La Jefa is no stranger to Pride performances.

“Me being older, when I first came to San Antonio, Pride was small here,” Tencha La Jefa said. “I’m from Laredo, so Laredo had nothing back then. It was so small. I think the parade was only four or five floats. We had a small, little park.”

Tencha La Jefa said things have changed drastically since the early years of San Antonio's Pride festivities.

"To see the change in people, to see everything, Pride to me means being able to live ... to live life normally without having to hide anything," Tencha La Jefa said.

“To me, Pride Month -- Pride period -- nowadays, the way things are, is just living life to the fullest and being able to be you and being able to be yourself, being accepted by so many people. That gives a good feeling inside of me,” he continued.

Pride Bigger Than Texas will be held on a virtual platform this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to learn more about the event.

About the Author

Ivan Herrera has worked as a journalist in San Antonio since 2016. His work for KSAT 12 and KSAT.com includes covering breaking news of the day, as well as producing Q&As and content for the "South Texas Pride" and "KSAT Money" series.

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