KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Stonewall Riots in 1969 helped lead to the creation of Pride Month as a time to honor people who were involved in work towards equality in justice and opportunity for the LGBTQ+ community. On Saturday, the community held a picnic to celebrate them.
People gathered at Krutch Park in downtown Knoxville with Pride flags and snacks to celebrate the anniversary of the riots that changed the social landscape and started efforts to ensure the LGBTQ+ community could be safe and heard.
Originally, the picnic was intended to be a march through the area. However, organizers changed it due to unforeseen circumstances, according to a release.
The event was family-friendly and focused on celebrating Pride Month with flags, slogans and good memories. Organizers said it was created because there was no traditional Pride parade this year, and they wanted to celebrate the Stonewall Riots near their anniversary.
"We're, a lot of times, too separated as youth and people in the city and we want to make sure that we're going out of our way to create those connections with other youth," said Alyssa Spiers, one of the organizers. "What better way than to celebrate the Stonewall anniversary?"
They started in the early hours of June 28, 1969, after police in New York City raided a gay club. It sparked a riot among bar patrons and nearby residents as police arrested employees and patrons out of the building. They lasted for six days, often with violent clashes between demonstrators and police.
The site of the riots, Stonewall Inn, Christopher Park and surrounding streets, were designated a national monument in 2016 by former President Barack Obama.
The event was led by Lenoir City Diversity and Knoxville Queer Youth.