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With Pride: Celebrate and Remember

There have been many events throughout June for Pride month, and tomorrow is the big event for the Great Lakes Bay Region: Pride Festival. Across the country, there will be an uptick in Pride events this weekend due to its proximity to the June 28 anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising.

Stonewall wasn’t the first time gay people stood up to unfair policing and discriminatory laws, but it was a moment that, due to many factors, changed the fight for civil rights. It's been called a catalyst. The first gay pride parade was held in New York City on the one year anniversary of Stonewall.

The centering on a gay bar reminds us of the importance of bars as gathering places. The significance is hard to overstate, because as Ryan Philemon explained for Provi, “These bars have served as (not always) safe places for the LGBTQ+ community to be together, to mingle, and to simply exist as their true selves.” Saginaw’s Heidelberg Inn was an important place for the gay community in the region.

As people gather together, in the open as LGBTQ+ community and allies, for Pride Fest, we should also remember the difficult fight for civil rights. So, we share the annotated speech Harvey Milk gave on June 25, 1979, for the anniversary of Stonewall, calling on political leaders to speak out against California Prop 6. “At the time, LGBTQ+ individuals around the country were dealing with state and local initiatives looking to 'protect children' by overturning equal rights ordinances. The two most visible figures behind these legislative maneuvers were John Briggs, a state Senator in California, who sought to remove openly lesbian and gay teachers with Proposition 6 (the phrase 'public homosexual' repeats throughout the proposition); and Anita Bryant, whose 'Save Our Children' organization successfully helped overturn equal rights ordinances in Miami, Florida; Eugene, Oregon; Wichita, Kansas; and St. Paul, Minnesota, while failing in Seattle, Washington” (Harvey Milk’s Gay Freedom Day Speech, JSTOR Daily).

President Jimmy Carter opposed Prop 6 as did former president Gerald Ford and former governor (later to be president) Ronald Reagan. Harvey Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were assassinated three weeks later.

Read Harvey Milk’s full Gay Freedom Day (1979) speech with annotations providing more historical background:


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