Communities around the world are marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in New York City this month. It marked the start of the modern campaign for LGBTQ rights.
A sudden storm couldn’t stop the first Pride event in Allegan County town of Douglas on June 1. It was among events in Michigan comemmorating the Stonewall Uprising for gay rights in Greenwich Village in 1969. Dave Lower was a volunteer organizer for the Douglas event. He says Stonewall continues to resonate today.
“People just said, 'We’re not going to be closeted anymore, we were born this way,’ and if you’re a religious person, God didn’t make a mistake, you know? He made us who we are and we ought to be who we are,” Lower says.
Lower says Stonewall sparked a movement because people wanted change. And he says it was the reaction to the riots that caused that change.
“That reaction, at the time, may have seemed negative to some, but so positive to others. And now 50 years later, it actually paved the way so that we could get people out of the closet and people would start recognizing (that) in order to be yourself, first of all you have to learn to love yourself and be who you are,” Lower says.
Lower says the entire community of Douglas was involved in the event. He says that was important to make the point that everyone should feel welcome there.
June is “Pride Month” around the world. Kalamazoo will its Pride event downtown on Friday and Saturday, June 7-8, at the Arcadia Festival site.