An Invitation to New York's First-Ever Gay Pride Parade

The Vault
Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights
June 27 2013 12:15 PM

An Invitation to New York's First-Ever Gay Pride Parade

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This flier, produced by the group Gay Liberation Front, calls the community to the first gay pride parade in New York in June 1970. The document is now held at ONE Archives, a 2-million-item collection of LGBTQ historical materials that's part of the University of Southern California libraries.

Planning for the first pride events began soon after the Stonewall riots of June 1969. As the flier shows, this inaugural gathering was called Liberation Day and featured a “Gay-In” in Central Park, consciousness-raising groups, dances, and women-only potluck dinners.

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The events at Stonewall caused a split within the constellation of activists advocating for civil rights for gay people. Gradualists—led by the old-guard Mattachine Society (founded in 1950)—denounced the violence of the riots and sought to work within the legal system to bring about change. Many younger gay people and allies thought more radical protests were necessary.

The Gay Liberation Front, born out of this new attitude, emphasized visibility and confrontation over respectability and politics. This GLF flier celebrates “a year in which a new spirit has entered the struggle for homosexual freedom—a new spirit both militant in tone and revolutionary in orientation.” Quoting Nietzsche (“What doesn’t destroy me makes me stronger”), the GLF spoke to “the homosexual who stands up, and fights back.”

The flier’s logo—intertwined male-male and female-female symbols, previously used by other gay organizations including the Mattachine Society—adds a clenched fist reminiscent of the Black Power salute.

The GLF, burdened by its radically nonhierarchical structure, dissolved within two years of its formation

Flier 1

GLF flyer advertising the first Christopher Street Liberation Day, 1970. Courtesy of ONE NationalGay&LesbianArchives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California.

PrideFlier2Final

GLF flyer advertising the first Christopher Street Liberation Day, 1970. Courtesy of ONE NationalGay&LesbianArchives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California.