LGBTQ+ person showing rainbow-painted hands for the OC Pride Festival

The first Orange County Pride Cultural Festival was a rather small affair in Santa Ana during the summer of 1989, but the event’s roots actually date back 20 years earlier—to New York City. A police raid of Greenwich Village’s Stonewall Inn in the early-morning hours of June 28, 1969, led to spontaneous and violent demonstrations by members of the gay community. Those events 50 years ago led to the creation of Pride Month, as well as annual celebrations across the country, during which rainbow-colored LGBT liberation flags proudly wave.

However, the first OC Pride, like Stonewall, was marred by violence—not from attendees, but from anti-LGBTQ goons who crashed the party. Law enforcement ordered Pride organizers to lock the festival gates temporarily as they considered shutting down the event. Attendees waited it out like caged animals before authorities finally deemed it safe for the Pride festival to continue.

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