There's no question that Pride has changed a lot over the last several decades. Parade-goers now don rainbow tutus, feather boas, body glitter and other colorful makeup, and as little clothing as possible. There are floats, dancers, music, and lots of big companies handing out rainbow-colored candy. But at the first gay pride parade, held in New York City in 1970, there were no bright colors or body paint (or straight people who came to party). Instead of monitoring the route to keep marchers safe, the police turned their backs on the lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender people who came to march. And the rainbow that now washes the streets during the parade wouldn't become a symbol of LGBTQ+ Pride for another eight years.
But even though Pride parades might not look the same as they did at the beginning, much of the motivation behind Pride remains the same. "We have to come out into the open and stop being ashamed, or else people will go on treating us as freaks," Michael Brown, a founder of the Gay Liberation Front, said to the New York Times before the first LGBTQ+ Pride parade. When Refinery29 asked NYC Pride-goers this year (almost 50 years later) why celebrations and parties like Pride are important, many echoed Brown's sentiment. It's important for straight and cisgender people to see that we exist, that we're happy, and that we aren't ashamed.