Rainbow fence
RAINBOW Colors on this Poppy Hill Drive fence evoke the multi-faceted nature of Pride Month.

By Pierre Ratte

Rainbow colors on this Healdsburg fence and the flags celebrating Pride Month symbolize freedom, overarching beauty, something special and something joyful. Looking upon colorful flags and the happiness of Pride parades, it’s easy to forget the history that led to these colors and today’s freedoms.

The term “Pride” originated from an acronym of Personal Rights In Defense and Education (PRIDE), a California gay rights organization which grew out of a raid on a gay bar in L.A. in May 1966. Three years later, in June 1969, another raid on a gay bar, the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, catalyzed a movement.

Socializing, even ordering drinks, in New York City in the 1960s was fraught for gay people. Police maintained that any assembly of homosexuals was “disorderly” and arrested people accordingly. Bars refused to serve gay patrons. New York State law mandated people wear gender-appropriate dress or face arrest.

In 1966, a “sip-in” was organized to challenge bars refusing gay clientele. The U.N. Commission on Human Rights got involved. The Commission essentially stated drinking while gay is not illegal.

In 1967, New York City courts confirmed that homosexual congregation was not disorderly and that gays could be served drinks. Nonetheless, on June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn and arrested 13 people, some under the inappropriate dress law.

The ensuing Stonewall Uprising marks the day the gay rights movement catalyzed into action.

Fun facts: One year after the Stonewall Inn raid and riots, thousands of people marched from the Stonewall to Central Park. It was, reportedly, the first gay parade. On that same day, cities across the country held parades, galvanizing a national movement. Forty-six years later, President Obama declared the Stonewall Inn a national monument.

The Pride flag was designed at the request of Harvey Milk and unfurled for the first time on June 25, 1978, in San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day Parade. Gilbert Baker designed the flag. He did not trademark the colorful symbol, wanting it to stand for freedom and LGBTQ+ social movements. A longtime Sister of Perpetual Indulgence, Baker’s drag name was “Busty Ross.”

The Stonewall Inn? It’s still a bar. It’s still open. It’s still welcoming. Enter with Pride and know its history.

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  1. Is that fence going to be painted a color that fits in with the landscape more appropriately after Pride Month? One thing to celebrate hard earned freedoms but quite another to uglify a neighborhood permanently.

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  2. The fence has been a rainbow for many years. It is lovely and I have never heard anyone object to it.

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  3. Perhaps City Hall should be painted in Pride/rainbow colors. If Healdsburg disallowed gays from ordering drinks in the bars in town, the city would go broke.

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