Viewer's Guide to WoW & Pride: History, Events, and More!
June is known around the world as Pride Month, and is something we see across social media, on the streets in extravagant parades, and in the exuberant flying of rainbow flags. For many, Pride Month is probably somewhat confusing, especially if they are not a part of the LGBTQIA2+ community. What is this big party all about? Why this particular month? What is the significance of Pride Month and why is it so important?
Today we are going to break it down for you, and give you some insight into the history of Pride Month. We’re also going to touch on some really important questions, such as what Pride means in the context of the Warcraft community and how Azeroth has provided a refuge for many members of the LGBTQIA2+ community. We’ll also go over different ways you can support the LGBTQIA2+ community, and highlight some awesome and exciting Pride events taking place around WoW this month!
Table of Contents
History of Pride
Pride is not just a celebration of the differences that make us unique and beautiful as human beings, but also serves as a remembrance of all of those LGBTQIA2+ pioneers that paved the way for marginalized people to have rights in the first place. In fact, organizations founded to champion the interests of LGBT individuals can be traced as far back as the 1920s in the United States.
One of the first documented gay rights organizations in the USA was founded by Henry Gerber in 1924, and was named The Society for Human Rights. This organization released the very first gay-interest newsletter in the country, which was aptly named Friendship and Freedom. Unfortunately, The Society for Human Rights was forced to disband the following year due to constant raids by the police – it is important to keep in mind that homosexuality was considered a criminal offence in the United States until 1962, and even then many individual states still had laws on the books that prohibited same-sex sexual activity in some ways.
Click here to learn more about the history of the gay rights movement in the United States.
In 1955, the country’s first lesbian rights group, the Daughters of Bilitis, was founded in San Francisco. This group was founded by a working class woman of color, which is important to call out, as many of the pioneers for LGBTQIA2+ rights in the United States were championed by people of colour and transgender persons. Rose Bamberger, a Filipino, is credited with having the initial idea of forming the group. The first meeting was held at her home on September 21, 1955. Two years later, the Daughters of Bilitis started publishing The Ladder, the first nationally distributed lesbian newsletter. Sadly, Rose passed away in 1990.
Click here to learn more about the Daughters of Bilitis.
While there are many other organizations like The Society for Human Rights and the Daughters of Bilitis that sprouted up during the early 1900s, Pride and what it is today was started in and shaped by the Stonewall Riots in the 1960s. On June 28, 1969, the NYPD (New York Police Department) raided a gay bar located in Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn, and arrested 13 people for violating New York’s gender-appropriate clothing statute. New York City had legislation regarding what clothing was legal or not legal to wear, based on your assigned gender. The police conducted very intrusive searches and checks on those they arrested, including doing a “sex check” on any patrons that they deemed they needed to.
photo credit: The New Yorker
Instead of dispersing as ordered by the police, the remainder of the patrons congregated outside of the bar, enraged and fed up with the constant harassment and abuse they endured by the police and society at large. The group of patrons quickly turned into a mob of hundreds of people, attempting to retake the Stonewall Inn from the police, who by this time had barricaded themselves inside. The Stonewall Riots lasted for five days after the initial raid on the 28th, when the mob was eventually dispersed by a riot squad.
To learn more about the events of the Stonewall Riots, check out this timeline here.
The Stonewall Riots sparked a surge of LGBT activism which led to the founding of well-known organizations of today, such as the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD. America’s first Pride Parade was exactly one year after the start of the Stonewall Riots, on June 28 1970. Thousands of people marched from the Stonewall Inn to Central Park, chanting “Say it Loud, Gay is Proud!” In 2016, the Stonewall Inn was officially declared a national monument because of its contribution to gay rights.
The Pride Parade became an annual tradition that was the central focus of what has now evolved into what we know as Pride Month. Parades are still a big part of the celebration, but Pride has become so much more! Today, Pride is a celebration of individuality and inclusivity, with almost every major city in the United States hosting its own Pride event. Most of the Western world (Americas, Canada, and Europe) openly celebrate Pride each year. Pride events also take place in Japan, Southern Africa, and parts of Southern Asia.
Despite the rights for the LGBTQIA2+ community having come a long way since the Stonewall Riots, the fight is still ongoing. Bigotry and hatred is still rife even in countries where LGBTQIA2+ persons have equal rights on paper, but sadly they are still met with extreme hostility and violence in many parts of the world. This is one reason why it is still so important to have Pride Month, to openly celebrate our identities and our authentic selves, because this type of representation matters. For those who still face oppression for simply being true to themselves, Pride celebrations give them the strength of community, as well as a sense of belonging.
photo credit: New York Post
Pride in the World of Warcraft
Armed with the knowledge about what Pride is and where it comes from, we can now explore why it matters so much for gamers. Why is Pride so important to the World of Warcraft community? The answer can largely be found in that word itself: “community”. There is also a very individual aspect to how Pride and Warcraft intersect as it is a different experience for each member of the LGBTQIA2+ community. At this point, I will pull from my own experiences to provide you with an idea of how Warcraft has been instrumental in my journey.
I am Pansexual, a content creator and streamer, and a longtime World of Warcraft player. WoW has been an integral part of my growth as a person, and the process of learning to love and accept myself for who I am. I started playing the game back in 2009 on a Warlock named Shadowscythe, with whom I began my journey and exploration of the world of Azeroth.
Although my first class was a Warlock, I found myself strongly identifying with the lore and fantasy of a Rogue. Immediately after hitting max level with my warlock, I started a Rogue, which I continue to play to this day. Rogues are very independent, but often misunderstood. At this time in my life, I felt different from the people around me, even those that I was close to. What I was feeling about myself, and how Rogues are portrayed in World of Warcraft, really resonated with me.
This strong connection I felt with the class not only helped me to navigate my own feelings later in life, but also helped me to recognize and accept my negative emotions about my sexuality. Just as I was proud of my accomplishments on my Rogue, I began to feel proud of who I was, and still am, as a person. To this day my Rogue serves as a reminder of my past, the progress I’ve made, and the person I’ve become.
This type of journey is not uncommon amongst members of the LGBTQIA2+ community within a game like World of Warcraft, where we are able to identify ourselves with our characters. Their struggles begin to mirror our struggles, and as we navigate through the dungeons and battles and defeat the evil, we are able to beat back our own demons in real life.
The struggle between the Horde and the Alliance, a mainstay of the World of Warcraft franchise (well, until just recently with cross-faction! yay!), can also be interpreted as a metaphor for the LGBTQIA2+ struggle for acceptance and understanding within the rest of the world. The Horde are often characterized as the misunderstood outcasts of Azeroth, constantly clashing with the Alliance. The history of the faction divide has always felt rooted in this sense of being the “others”. As with the Horde, LGBTQIA2+ individuals often find themselves in similar conflicts with different groups of people as we attempt to find our place in the world. However, as the story of World of Warcraft has shown us time and time again, you can always find common ground and understanding if you want to, even between factions.
While our journeys through Azeroth help us to navigate our own lives as individuals, the community we are able to find and foster within the game is a monumental reason behind why Pride is so important to us as gamers. World of Warcraft, and other games like it, are based on community. It is a core aspect of any MMORPG, but especially WoW as it is one of the longest-standing and largest games of its kind in the world. This sense of community-building is what makes WoW so perfect for the LGBTQIA2+ community. The bonds that we are able to form with our guildmates and other players shape how we feel and interact with the game, which directly mirrors our everyday lives. It is a space where we can be ourselves with others who understand what we go through.
How to Support the LGBTQIA2+ Community
The history of Pride and its intersection with the gaming industry, and WoW in particular, is important to understand. It explains why this community is so expressive about Pride Month and celebrates it so openly. It is also important to understand that underneath the celebration remains struggle and conflict that we have to navigate daily. It is imperative that we as members of the LGBTQIA2+ community support each other, and that our Allies have our backs as well!
Because of our limited visibility in the community, it can be difficult to know how to provide this support to LGBTQIA2+ individuals and content creators. Even if we are not open, we exist at all levels of play, whether it be casual transmog farming or pushing for the very top spots in Raiding, Mythic+ or PvP. For those of us who are visible to the public, every day can be a constant struggle dealing with harassment, threats, and bullying.
So, what can you do to support marginalized players and content creators in the WoW community? As with any content creator, the biggest thing you can do is interact with their content! Share what they create, and help spread their message. This shows us your support, rather than just stating that you’re with us. Actions truly speak louder than words. Allies can act as the bridge between us and the rest of society, allowing us to be seen by audiences from whom we would normally be hidden.
However, the biggest and most important thing you can do as an Ally is to listen – don’t just hear what we are saying, but truly listen. Our perspective on life and how we navigate it can at first glance seem foreign and unrelatable, but if you take the time to listen, you’ll soon realize that there is a lot of common ground. Have you ever had to struggle in your life because of something you cannot change, regardless of the severity of that struggle? On some level, I believe this is something almost everyone can relate to. Once you start to really think about it, you’ll start to see that we really aren’t that different after all.
photo credit: CNN
Another great way to show your support to the LGBTQIA2+ community is to donate (if you have the means) to reputable charities and organizations. There are lot of groups that are doing amazing work, providing a variety of services to the people they champion, as well as working to push legislation to help better the lives of the queer community and other marginalized groups. They also help raise social awareness and promote acceptance, which is something you can do without donating funds, by helping to spread their message! Here are a few organizations I recommend that are instrumental in improving the lives of LGBTQIA2+ people around the world: The Trevor Project, Trans Lifeline, GLAAD, Center for Black Equity, and Outright Action International.
Pride Events Around Azeroth
There are a number of Pride Events and ways to support the LGBTQIA2+ community taking place all month long within the World of Warcraft Community. Here is a guide to some of them, but make sure you keep your eyes on social media, as there are certainly more to come!
Raider.IO Pride Guides
We are proud to be collaborating this month with four amazing content creators and streamers who we are honored to have represent us as our Raider.IO Pride Guides. They are all members of the LGBTQIA2+ community and have varying identities, and we encourage you to go check out their streams and other content. They will be featured on our front page for the first week of this month!
|Pride Guide Name||Links|
Celheals Charity Drive
Celheals, one of our Pride Guides, is hosting a charity event TODAY to raise funds for Rainbow Railroad, an incredible organization that helps members of the LGBTQIA2+ community escape state-sponsored violence around the world. Starting at 10am CST, join him on his Twitch Channelfor this annual charity drive that will be filled with giveaways, games, and fabulous fun – including an in-game Pride March!
Running of the Trolls with WarcraftCares
The Running of the Trolls is an event that will be taking place on June 18th, hosted by WarcraftCares, on the Feathermoon-US Server. All proceeds raised during the event will be going to The Trevor Project.
Pride Parade and Party with Eiya
Beloved WoW Esports Host and Team Liquid member Eiya will be hosting a Pride Parade and Party in Orgrimmar later this month. Stay tuned to her Twitter for more details!
Pride Across Azeroth: Community Charity Drive
We here at Raider.IO have partnered with Raidbots and WarcraftLogs to create Pride Across Azeroth 2022 - a month-long charity drive benefiting OutRight Action International. The first donations up to $5,000 will be matched by all 3 community partners, turning each dollar donated into FOUR received by the charity! Join us in supporting the amazing work OutRight Action International is doing to fight for the rights of the LGBTQIA2+ community around the world. Click here to donate!
I really want to thank each and every one of you for taking the time to read this article and learn a little more about what Pride means. The world can be a cruel and lonely place. I truly believe that each and every one of us has the potential to make it better, and it starts with the love and kindness you show to those who really need it. Happy Pride Month, and remember: Be proud of who you are.
About the Author
Kubie has been playing WoW since Wrath of the Lich King, earning several cutting edge achievements during that time. He was also a coach for the Heroes of the Storm HGC team No Tomorrow. Kubie is part of the Customer Support team at Raider.IO and enjoys helping others to solve their issues. His current interests are pushing Mythic+ on multiple characters, raiding, streaming on Twitch, and running.