In the 1950s and most of the 1960s, non-heterosexuals were shunned and persecuted, resulting in them being forced to live in the closet with only a few small communities to support them. Homosexuals and bisexuals were viewed as a cancer to American society and psychologists. If found out, there was a huge possibility that they would be sent to "reparative" therapy or camps to "cure" these individuals of their homosexuality. Then, on the morning of June 28, 1969, at a small bar called the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, police raided the bar and inappropriately touched some of the cross-dressers there. The pro-gay community responded by protesting and rioting, telling the government they had enough of the humiliation, persecution, and shun. This resulted in the first Gay Pride parade in 1970 on the first anniversary of the riot.
Over the years, the Gay Pride liberation movement was slow but steady due to the ill-conceived perception of HIV and AIDS being exclusive to the LGBT. Following the passing of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 (prohibiting benefits for same-sex marriages and all but verifying marriage as between a man and a woman), the LGBT exploded back onto front-page news in the U.S. Since 2000, Gay Pride and the LGBT civil rights movement has spread quickly across North America and most of Europe, with civil unions and gay marriage approved and performed throughout most of the European Union, South Africa, Australia, Canada, and several U.S. states.
Today, same-sex rights further entered into the forefront of Western politics, especially in the United States. President Obama has formally announced his support for same-sex marriage, putting same-sex marriage and its subsequent benefits and same-sex social rights deeper into American politics. However, there have been doubts and pointless dismissals against continuing Gay Pride lately, particularly by those outside the movement. To them, Gay Pride is viewed as unnecessary, pointless, and even stupid. Also, some people have counter-protested via tiny "Straight Pride" protests.
Gay Pride and their parades have huge, purposeful importance that. The Gay Pride parade was born on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riot in 1970 with the purpose of giving the LGBT(I) equal protection and recognition of the law and spreading others who are gay, bisexual, transsexual/gender, and eventually intersex and pansexual confidence and comfort for being who they are. That them being shunned by their families/government and sometimes thrown to therapies and camps for an innate, born orientation (even though transgender and intersex aren't orientations) is unethical, disgusting, and just plain wrong! These protests made the governments internationally notice and reply, and in several western civilizations, they've worked. The United States, in particular, have occasional parades, including New York (the movement's birthright) to continue to spread the hope and confidence of giving the LGBT(I) people equal rights. They do this to continue to remind them of the progress of providing equal civil rights to them just like heterosexuals. Discontinuing the Pride parades would mean giving up on the progress and sending a message of hopelessness to the rest of the LGBT(I) and its supporters.
As for the "Straight Pride" counter-protests, in comparison to Gay Pride, these "protests" are completely unnecessary, for heterosexuals are already provided equal protection of the law throughout most of the entire western world, both as single and as a couple. Unlike the LGBT(I), they never had to live in fear of discrimination, persecution, and abuse from the law, family, and society due to a so-called "sexual abnormality." Also, unlike Gay Pride, "Straight Pride" is mostly designed to fallaciously respond to Gay Pride and push the LGBT(I) community and messages of equal rights and hope further into the background.
Although the American society is progressing slowly towards providing the LGBT(I) equal protection of the law, there are LGBT(I) people, minors and adults, who are still living in the closet from fear of rejection, persecution, and discrimination. I made posts in this thread discussing California's recent ban on gay teen "reparative" therapies. Moreover, one town in Minnesota had a huge chain of events where teens committed suicide because they were bullied for being gay or possibly being gay. Earlier this year, North Carolina citizens voted to pass a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage! And don't get me started on the disgusting discrimination of the LGBT(I) in parts of Africa and the Middle East such as Sudan, Uganda, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran. In the U.S., whenever the same-sex-rights movement takes one huge step forward, there are two steps back, followed by another huge step forward. Gay Pride is still needed to continually spread hope, confidence, and comfort to other people who are gay, bisexual, transsexual/gender, etc.! If you dismiss Gay Pride and their parades today, then you're diminishing Gay Pride's importance towards the LGBT(I) movement in the U.S. and around the world and also its important origins.