Marching with Pride

Pride and St. Louis, 1979 – 2019

Forty years ago, in April 1979, the first organized “Gay Pride” event took place in the St. Louis region.  In the years since, local Pride events have changed dates, locations, goals, and methods.  There have been marches, and parades, and picnics; dances, riverboat cruises, drag-shows, and more.

Anniversaries, much like birthdays, are often viewed as celebrations.   And it is true that progress has occurred since 1979 — positive changes such as the legalization of same-sex marriages are important.  And yet, discrimination against trans* and non-binary people remains legal in Missouri.  LGBTQ people of color live in a region shaped by decades of segregative and discriminatory policies. 

History — especially LGBTQ history —  is more than an individual’s memories.  It is more than generalized nostalgia, or a rosy look at by-gone days.  It is the collective review, evaluation, and contextualization of past events.  Not always an easy task, but an honest look through the lens of history can be a powerful tool, allowing perspective to help ground decisions made in the present.  

Timeline, 1979 – 2019

So, in honor of #Stonewall50, Pride month, and to help add facts to the conversation in St. Louis, I am happy to share an online timeline local Pride of milestones.  (If you have trouble viewing the timeline below, try this separate link)

Looking ahead

This timeline is based on multiple sources including newspaper articles, printed pride guides, organization’s websites, and oral histories, many of which were compiled for the Mapping LGBTQ St. Louis website.  Working to share and broaden understanding of our region’s complex LGBTQ history is one of the main goals of the Mapping LGBTQ St. Louis project.  

This timeline is very much a work in progress.  More stories and moments are yet to be added.  I hope you will check back in the next few months as more history is added to the page. And please, send please send feedback!

2013 St. Louis Pride Fest logo

About the author

Miranda Rectenwald is Curator of Local History, Washington University Special Collections. More info.