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Pride in the Park
Pride in the Park

Gay "Be-In," Sheep Meadow, Central Park, New York City, 1970. Photograph by Diana Davies. NYPL, Manuscripts and Archives Division, Diana Davies Papers. Copyright Diana Davies. Digital ID: 1582244
Today's LGBT movement grew out of the activist organizations that emerged in the fertile and tumultuous year that followed the Stonewall Riots. Gay Liberation Front, Gay Activists Alliance, and the Radicalesbians all sent small groups of activists on road trips to spread the word. Chapters sprang up across the country, and many outlived the original groups in New York City. These groups in turn fought for civil rights in their home communities. In the following year, GAA became a major activist force in New York, fighting for civil rights legislation and opening a community center in SoHo, their Firehouse, which became a nexus for New York City gays and lesbians. The vision put forward by the Radicalesbians took root and flowered into a dynamic lesbian feminist movement across the nation.

The 1970s became a gay and lesbian renaissance with its own literature, music, politics, and erotic presence. Gay, lesbian, and transgender activists won major political victories, such as the removal of homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association's list of mental disorders, and were able to apply public pressure to combat negative stereotypes of homosexuality. However, many of the challenges faced by Mattachine-era activists still continue today, such as bans on military service and marriage for gays, police entrapment, and the struggle of transgender people for civil rights.

The march itself became an institution, with Gay Pride and later LGBT Pride months celebrated around the world. Over time, the march evolved, and the route changed from up Sixth Avenue to Central Park, to down Fifth Avenue to the Village. As the many ethnic parades in the city do for their groups, the annual march demonstrates gays, lesbians, and transgender people as articulate constituencies. It has become a living symbol of the evolution of LGBT political communities.

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