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Marching Towards Equal Rights

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

This year marks the second year that PBA has participated in the Honolulu Pride Parade and, although nothing can top the amount of positivity and support from all the participants, the parade itself has a rich history that not many people know about.

It all started with a police raid on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn located in New York City. The city’s police raided the bar since it was operating without a liquor license and revelers inside were arrested while patrons were handcuffed outside. According to the New York City liquor authority, licenses weren’t given to establishments that served gay patrons.

This was during the 1960s, when people were not as welcoming to the LGBT community so various gay bars became a place of refuge for them. The Stonewall Inn had become a home to many and was considered a sacred bar.

The raid provoked a riot between the bar patrons and the police when a woman was hit on the head by an officer, which caused the police to barricade themselves in the bar. Fueled by anger, the crowd set the barricade on fire and the crowd was later dispersed by the fire department as they put out the flames. Over the next six days, demonstrations happened outside of the bar where thousands of people shared their thoughts on the LGBT community.

This event encouraged people to stand up for LGBT political activism. The first Pride Parade was held in New York City on June 28, 1970 -- one year after the Stonewall riots. The parade was fifty-one blocks long and featured an official chant: “Say it loud, gay is proud.”

Due to everyone’s efforts and support towards the LGBT community, the Pride Parade’s journey has been grueling but all the hard work has paid off, as parades continue to be held in honor of the Stonewall riots. The Honolulu Pride Parade has been held since 1990 and thousands of people have participated in this colorful festival.

This was the first time that freshman Riley Jose has participated in the event. She decided to attend because she thought it would be fun to see so many people coming together for a good cause.

PBA students pose at the start of the pride parade (photo by Blanche Yarnell).

“ I think Pride is important because it’s celebrating our differences and accepting people for who they are,” she said.

Senior Jocelyn Miyashiro attended both the 2017 and 2018 Honolulu Pride Parade. From her experience, she felt more prepared this year since there was more time to plan and she continues to enjoy being there to experience the support towards the community.

“I was very inspired by it because not all the people there were a part of the LGBTQ+ community and it made me happy to see so many supporters,” she said.

The LGBT community has expanded and is now known as the LGBTQ+ community. The community has gone through numerous hardships, from violent crimes done to LGBTQ+ individuals to being sent to “gay conversion therapy.” By attending the parade, people were able to reflect on the difficulties that others had to go through in the past and even today in some places.

“I think that all the people that went through not being accepted as a person or who you choose to love are great role models for what they did,” Jose said.

Miyashiro shares similar thoughts. She believes that these people are inspirational since they have endured the hate from others just because of their difference in sexuality and the community itself is more welcomed now compared to just a few years ago.

“It has inspired me because they have gone through so many hardships as a community and individually yet they’re still proud of who they are,” she said.

Many agree that the Pride Parade is not only a memorable experience but also an eye-opener. Everyone is able to participate in Pride and it’s an opportunity that, according to Miyashiro, you definitely don’t want to take for granted.

“If you’re reading this, you should go to Pride,” she said. “I really hope that PBA will always have a place in the Pride parade.”