Christopher Street Day, also known as CSD, is a LGBT celebration which is held in a number of different cities all over the world. It is a day when members of the LGBT community can come together and show pride in themselves and their community and to also make the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community more visible to society. It is celebrated on June 28th in some communities and the last Saturday of the month in other communities. It’s been celebrated since 1970 and is the predecessor of Gay Pride Day.
History of Christopher Street Day
Christopher Street Day can be traced back to June 28th, 1969 in New York City. This is when members of the LGBT community fought back against police assaults that happened at the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan. Known as the Stonewall Riots or the Stonewall Rebellion, this event was marked by several spontaneous demonstrations by members of the LGBT community – many of which ended in violence. This is because the legal system considered the LGBT lifestyle to be illegal and not only raided homosexual establishments on a regular basis but also imposed draconian sentences for engaging in homosexual behavior. At the time, engaging in homosexual acts could get a person arrested and then sentenced to anywhere from 5 years to life imprisonment.
In observance of the Stonewall Rebellion, Christopher Street Liberation Day and Christopher Street West Association, located in New York and Los Angeles respectively, started the holiday on June 28th, 1970 and established some of the first Gay Pride Parades in U.S history. To further broaden the celebration for all members of the LGBTQ community, Gay Pride Week was established the week prior to Christopher Street Liberation Day.
Today, Christopher Street Day continues to be celebrated on the last Saturday in June in both New York City and L.A. However, the holiday has also spread all over Europe to celebrate the LGBTQ community. In 1978, Christopher Street Liberation Day was observed in Switzerland. In 1979, Berlin, Germany started celebrating the day on an annual basis.
Christopher Street Day Customs & Celebrations
Christopher Street Day is celebrated in a number of different ways. In most communities, it is celebrated with a parade that usually includes floats as well as people walking in front of or behind the floats. It is also common to see men dressed as women or women dressed as men during these parades. Many people will also dress up in other types of costumes. In a lot of cities, the day is usually marked with various artistic events, lectures, concerts, parties, readings and even political events.
Another tradition is for people to wave the rainbow flag on this holiday or to incorporate the design into one’s clothing. The rainbow flag is symbolic of the self-esteem felt by members of the LGBTQ community and is also symbolic of peace and tolerance. Which is also what Christopher Street Day stands for as well.