June is here. Summer is here. The never-ending winter has finally ceded. Clear skies and warmer weather have arrived. Beer gardens up and down the UK are open for business and the clock is counting down to Freedom Day.
And what a time for us to have our freedom back! June is Pride Month. A time that the LGBTQ+ community bands together in solidarity, celebrating self-affirmation, dignity and equality.
For more than fifty years the LGBTQ+ community has celebrated Pride Month. From the inaugural event held simultaneously in Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco on a hot summer’s day in 1970 to 2019 which witnessed the largest International Pride celebration in its history, we’ve come a long way.
Any yet, in all the euphoria, social acceptance and legal rights, the LGBTQ+ community will never forget those dark days in 1969 which birthed a movement and eventual global societal change. Nor should they have to.
We are, of course, talking about the Stonewall Riots of 1969.
What Happened on June 28th, 1969?
It all began in the early hours of the morning. People were partying, dancing, being true to themselves. Until police raided the bar.
The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar located in Greenwich Village, New York City, would become the epicentre for LGBTQ+ civil unrest – in one of the most politically-charged, societal time periods of the last century.
Whilst we cannot – and will not – presume to know what it was like to be there that night; we do have accounts of what happened. And, of course, we know what followed. New York City police hauled patrons from the bar. Thirteen arrests were made. Six days of protests were sparked. Violent clashes with the police were recorded on Christopher Street, outside The Stonewall Inn and in neighbouring Christopher Park.
The event would go down in history as The Stonewall Riots and serve as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.
Proudly Standing with the LGBTQ Community for Fifty Years
The history of dance music is rooted in the LGBTQ+ community. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities embraced the sound and culture as far back as the 1970’s. For that, we owe them a debt of gratitude. They have represented the party scene for as long as straight, white Anglo-Saxon protestants have.
Now, you can’t talk about the history of the party scene without talking about Dave Mancuso. Way back when, disco was becoming the sound of a generation. Mancuso became the first DJ to run invitation-only underground dance parties which he hosted at his house on the Lower East Side of New York City. First, he played just for his friends. But word spread.
Before too long, anyone who was anyone in the scene was at Mancuso’s ‘Loft.’ The parties were a safe space, a mecca, where people could openly express their sexuality and gender identity.
Fast forward a few years and The Loft became the blueprint for legendary discotheques and DJ culture. Paradise Garage with resident DJ Larry Levan and the notorious Studio 54 with resident DJ Nicky Siano were plying their trade to a rapturous audience.
By the late 1970’s, Frankie Knuckles, The Godfather of House Music, was playing the gay Continental Baths in the basement of the Ansonia Hotel in New York City alongside Larry Levan. Knuckles relocated to Chicago and developed his signature sound, Chicago House –
a blend of disco, soul, electro pop, hip-hop and a smattering of other influences. This sound was embraced, and to a large extent, popularised by the LGBTQ and black communities.
Throughout the 1980’s, Chicago House was filling dance floors in LGBTQ- friendly establishments. Marshall Jefferson, Larry Heard and countless others were cueing up tracks up and down the US. DJs were invited across the pond and Chicago House took Europe by storm. Today, there would be no Acid House, no Deep House, no Disco House without Chicago House, and the LGBTQ+ community.
Bottom line: the sound, vibe, culture that surrounds the party scene would not be what it is today without the LGBTQ+ community. Credit where credit’s due, man.
An Inclusive Community for Everyone
Music and cultural identity are intertwined. It’s both a sense of self and the collective. It’s expressive, bold and emotive. Thousands of years ago, tribes would use music to mark an occasion. Tell a story. Teach a lesson.
Nothing has changed. Nor should it.
Music breaks down barriers. Builds bonds. Heals wounds. Across the globe. It transcends cultural boundaries. It’s a universal language.
This is what binds communities together. This is what helps us to understand life from someone else’s perspective. This is how we stand together. United. Strong.
This is Pride is all about.
blanc Media strongly supports Pride Month. The intent, ethos and values embodied by the event is what we’re all about. Without the support of the LGBTQ+ community, the vibrant, inclusive scene would not be what it is today. The sound would not be the same. The passions of people would not be the same. The vibe would not be the same.
In the words of the iconic Diana Ross tune, we hope that you’ll say I’m Coming Out to a party. We hope that you’ll join us this month in celebrating Pride Month.