These pics show why America's first LGBTQ Pride marchers were badass rebels.

America's first LGBTQ Pride marchers stormed the streets of New York City in 1970, demanding to be seen as human.

These marches didn't appear out of thin air, of course. Queer New Yorkers had had it by then.

Photo by Diana Davies/The New York Public Library.


The previous summer, anger and pain had boiled over in lower Manhattan.

In the early hours of June 28, 1969, police violently raided a queer bar, The Stonewall Inn, for no other reason than the patrons were LGBTQ.

For years, queer New Yorkers had endured harassment at the hands of cops; the June 28 raid wasn't an isolated incident.

So they rioted. They threw bricks. They refused to leave in peace. They made front page headlines too, birthing the modern LGBTQ rights movement. And those first Stonewall rioters — led largely by transgender and non-binary people of color — sparked a revolution.

Exactly one year after the Stonewall riots, on June 28, 1970, America's very first Pride march took place in New York City. At the time, it was celebrated as Gay Liberation Day.  

Photo by Diana Davies/The New York Public Library.

The following year, a second consecutive march ensued. A movement was gaining steam.

These people really were badass rebels.

They saw their own humanity — and fought for it fiercely — while the rest of the world refused to acknowledge it.

Photo by Diana Davies/The New York Public Library.

Through these first Pride marches, homosexuality was still considered a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association. There were no openly LGBTQ politicians at any level of government across the country, nor were there any federal policies protecting gay rights (let alone trans rights) in any form. Anti-sodomy laws were still in place in every state except Illinois.  

To boldly take to the streets under those circumstances — when your very existence was scoffed at by large majorities of Americans — takes a ridiculous amount of bravery.

Photo by Diana Davies/The New York Public Library.

Those who were marching in the first years were rebel badasses, motivated to their core to stand up for what they believed in.

The world can be a dark place. Some days, it feels like we're going backward, away from progress. And maybe some days we are.

But in those moments, it's worth remembering the people in these photos. People like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who launched Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) to group, protect, and house homeless transgender people in New York City. All the rioters at Stonewall they stood beside. The very first LGBTQ Pride marchers filling the streets — angry but hopeful, demanding the world change.

They didn't buckle to hateful forces then. And neither should we.

Marsha P. Johnson. Photo by Diana Davies/The New York Public Library.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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