The City of Milwaukee marked the beginning of Pride Month on June 3 with a significant and inclusive celebration, when the Intersex Progress Pride Flag was raised at the Zeidler Municipal Building.

Symbolizing the city’s ongoing commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and the recognition of the LGBTQ+ community, the Pride Flag will fly outside City buildings throughout the month of June.

“Milwaukee celebrates the accomplishments of the LGBTQ+ community in June. Pride Month recognizes their fight for civil rights, equal justice, and equal opportunity. My heart is full, Happy Pride Milwaukee!” said Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa, Milwaukee’s first openly LGBTQ+ official elected to the Milwaukee Common.

The first Pride flag was created in 1978 using rainbow colors that had different meanings and representations for the community. In 2017, black and brown stripes were incorporated to represent the black and brown communities. In 2018, blue, pink, and white stripes were incorporated to represent the transgender community.

First introduced in 2021, the Intersex Progress Pride Flag added a purple circle on a yellow background, meaning “wholeness, completeness, and potentialities,” to represent the intersex community.

The City of Milwaukee selected the Intersex Progress Pride Flag because it incorporated elements from various LGBTQI+ flags, highlighting groups that have historically been underrepresented in Pride celebrations. It will serve as a visual reminder of the city’s solidarity with its LGBTQ+ residents and employees.

Mayor Cavalier Johnson led the event, joined by Alderman Peter Burgelis and Alderwoman Zamarripa, as well as prominent city officials including Fire Chief Aaron Lipski and City Comptroller Bill Christianson, and members of The Hive, Milwaukee’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group.

“I am honored to join my fellow ‘out’ alder, Peter Burgelis, in raising the Intersex Progress Pride Flag for Pride Month this year,” said Alderwoman Zamarripa. “I am so excited that we finally have multiple ‘out’ members. We have a queer caucus and a LGBTQ+ caucus on the Common Council here in the City of Milwaukee.”

The Alderwoman also thanked Mayor Johnson, who she said has been a steadfast ally to Milwaukee’s LGBTQ+ community. The flag-raising ceremony also offered public recognition of LGBTQ+ achievements and contributions to the city over the past decades.

“Happy Pride Milwaukee,” said Mayor Johnson. He then talked about how much the city valued diversity, being one of the most diverse places in Wisconsin.

“Roughly one in ten people in this entire state live in Milwaukee, so it is important for us to exercise our faith, and our value in diversity, and help those overlooked voices to be heard,” said Mayor Johnson. “Too often in communities, voices like these are set aside, and they are not listened to. But here in Milwaukee we celebrate, we uplift those voices.”

Alderman Peter Burgelis, who was elected as the first out member of the Milwaukee County Board in 2022, and became the second out member of the City’s Common Council in 2024, shared his insight and appreciation at the event. He also highlighted the significance of choosing the Intersex Progress Pride Flag.

“By intentionally choosing to fly the more inclusive Intersex Progress Pride Flag, the City joins Milwaukee County to make a statement that everyone is seen, welcomed, and respected in our community,” said Alderman Burgelis. “Although New York City’s 1969 Stonewall riot is credited with starting the Gay Rights movement, here in Milwaukee – a full eight years before Stonewall, the Black Knight Tavern in 1961 saw the first documented moment when trans women of color had enough and fought back against homophobic aggression.”

Governor Tony Evers set a statewide precedent in 2019, when he raised a Rainbow Flag in celebration of Pride month over the State Capitol in Madison for the first time in Wisconsin history.

Both the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County began officially flying a Pride Flag over municipal buildings in 2020, a year after adopting the Juneteenth flag.

In addition to the flag-raising ceremony on June 3, Milwaukee will commemorate another significant event later this year. On August 5, the city will unveil a historical marker for the 1961 Black Nite uprising, a pivotal moment in LGBTQ+ history and the fight for civil rights in Milwaukee. The event is expected to draw attention to the long-standing struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQ+ community.

Known as the world’s leading source of LGBTQ+ news, “The Advocate” magazine recently published a study by the real estate data company Clever. According to its analysis of criteria, Milwaukee was listed as one of the most “LGBTQ+ friendly” cities in the United States.

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Lee Matz