What became known as St. Louis Lesbian & Gay Pride Celebration Committee was born in 1979, but the first St. Louis Gay and Lesbian Pride Celebration didn’t occur until 1980. This event was sponsored by the Magnolia Committee – named for the street where the majority of the members lived and had their meetings. Their combined effort with a second organization resulted in a weeks worth of activities held in April of 1980. At the end of the week hundreds gathered for “The Lesbians and Gays Walk for Charity” which went down Lindell Boulevard in the Central West End to Washington University’s quadrangle. These two combined groups then became the St. Louis Lesbian & Gay Pride Celebration Committee.
At the same time, writer Jim Thomas invited representatives from organizations around town to a meeting to begin discussions for an annual celebration. It was to be held in June as a tribute to the Stonewall Riots which occurred the last weekend of June in 1969. Each participating organization, still able to keep their identity in individual events, would form a larger group – creating a greater whole. At the time, the celebration consisted of a picnic in the beginning of the week and a march at the end.
Thus began a tradition which is still strong today in St. Louis. June is now known as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, and since the first PrideFest in 1981 this event has grown in size, attendance, and scope. A Pride Festival takes on a huge importance for our community because it allows, if even for one brief weekend, for people to feel proud of who they are. We provide them a safe place to be who they wish to be, and that empowerment can be a life-altering experience.
For over thirty years, Pride St. Louis, Inc. has been working to raise understanding and acceptance of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender individuals in our community. We are not a political group, but rather a community-based organization that envisions a world where diversity can be celebrated and prejudice has been eliminated. We welcome you to join us for a meeting, a workshop, or a special event. As an organization, we are working hard to bring about changes…right here in St. Louis.
“To foster an understanding of and equality for the LGBT community in the general population by raising awareness through educational programs and events ultimately leading up to the annual PrideFest in St. Louis.”