This Pride Month, it is crucial that we go beyond the rainbow decor and remember that Pride started as a way to commemorate the night that a group of queer people rioted against police brutality, surveillance, and harassment facing New York’s queer community.

The Stonewall Inn was a gay bar in New York City that was the prominent dancing spot for Black and Brown queer people, gender non-conforming people, and queer people of lower income. Law enforcement consistently raided the Stonewall Inn, and police physically and sexually abused its occupants.

In the early morning of June 28, 1969, the people in the Stonewall Inn, led by Black and Brown gender non-conforming people, were fed up with the homophobia and abuse of the City of New York and fought back. Queer people and allies in the surrounding area rioted for multiple nights to take a stance against their mistreatment by the government. The aftermath of the riots set the foundation for the queer community organizing in New York City, which then helped to fuel the nationwide LGBTQ+ rights movement. 

This historical reminder is pertinent right now during a wave of state-sponsored attacks on trans people and the greater LGBTQ+ community at rates we haven’t seen in decades.

So far, in 2024, the ACLU is tracking 516 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in state legislatures nationwide. The vast majority of these bills were targeted directly at the trans community, including trans youth and trans adults alike. Many of those bills were attempts to remove LGBTQ+ history from libraries and schools around the country. While not all of these bills became law, many did.

Wisconsin is not immune to this rise in anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments. During the last legislative session, Wisconsin legislators introduced bills to:

  • Ban gender-affirming healthcare for trans minors
  • Ban trans adults and minors from participating in sports
  • Censor books and classroom instruction that mention LGBTQ+ identities
  • Target books with LGBTQ+ characters as “obscene material” and criminalize librarians and teachers for distributing it to minors
  • Forbid trans people to be incarcerated with their chosen gender identity
  • Force teachers not to use trans children's chosen pronouns and names
  • And other bills that are harmful to the LGBTQ+ community

These bills are harmful attacks on LGBTQ+ Wisconsinites that further ostracize them as a marginalized community from the rest of society. The attacks on the LGBTQ+ community in Wisconsin do not stop just at the legislature but also include book bans in local school and public libraries, diminishing affirming spaces, attempting to establish rights to deadname and misgender youth through litigation, pride event protests, and social media-fueled pressure campaigns.

Often, these political attacks turn into physical attacks as we see an uptick in anti-trans violence in Wisconsin’s cities. Due to the politicization of their identities and the discrimination they face, Wisconsin’s youth are at a highly concerning rate of depression and suicidal thoughts. What may seem like political theater to straight people, is a matter of life and death for the LGBTQ+ community.

We challenge allies and business sponsors not to let their activism stop at Pride festivals and parades. We ask that they also remember Stonewall and put political and financial pressure on those orchestrating the attacks against Wisconsin’s LGBTQ+ community. 

Pride Month is a call to action as we celebrate the historical resistance of LGBTQ+ communities. If we do not want to see a backslide in the rights and visibility of all, then we must remember that Pride is a protest.