Today marks the 54th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a defining moment in LGBTQ+ history that continues to inspire and shape the fight for equal rights. The precursor to the contemporary Pride movement, Stonewall helped propel us toward greater visibility and acceptance.
As we remember Stonewall, let’s reflect on the enduring legacy of this pivotal event and pay tribute to the brave individuals who stood up against oppression.
The Stonewall Riots: A turning point in history
The Stonewall Riots occurred on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City. At the time, homosexuality, cross-dressing, and gay bars were still illegal in many states, and being openly LGBTQ+ was severely discouraged.
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Raids were commonplace in gay bars, and the Stonewall Inn was no exception. On the night of June 28, police officers stormed the bar for yet another raid; however, this time something different happened.
Sparked by the injustice, the patrons of the bar protested by refusing to cooperate with the police or disperse. As a result, the police decided to take the patrons to the police station for processing.
Within minutes of waiting for patrol wagons to arrive, a crowd of people gathered in protest outside the bar and a riot ultimately ensued. In a display of solidarity and anger, the crowd started hurling objects such as garbage cans, bottles, and bricks at the police and the Stonewall Inn.
Reports stated that hundreds of people were involved, and eventually the police had to retreat.
The resistance activities of Stonewall lasted for six days, prompting discussion in mainstream media about the gay rights movement that was burgeoning across the country.
Republican lawmakers have worked round the clock to pass oppressive bills targeting gender-affirming care, bathroom usage, drag shows, and trans students.
Pride has always been a protest
The night of the riots witnessed an outpouring of frustration, as LGBTQ+ individuals and allies joined forces to resist ongoing police harassment and discrimination.
The Stonewall Riots had a lasting impact beyond the actual nights of the events. As a result, activist groups such as the Gay Liberation Front emerged, which pushed for LGBTQ+ rights and fostered a sense of pride and unity.
This renewed push for activism ultimately led to the creation of the Pride Movement, which we celebrate and observe every June. To this day, Pride festivals and marches serve as a reminder of the resilience and courage of those who fought for LGBTQ+ rights.
Stonewall’s lasting impact
As we commemorate more than 50 years since the Stonewall Riots happened, we can honor the progress made since that pivotal moment including:
- The American Psychiatric Association’s removal of homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973
- Gilbert Baker’s creation of the original Pride flag in 1978
- The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in 1993
- The legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015
- A federal ban on workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in 2020
At the same time, there have been plenty of anti-LGBTQ+ bills also introduced and passed over the years, as well as ongoing discrimination and hate crimes that can’t be ignored.
In 1994, a Missouri teacher wanted to give students better access to LGBTQ history. Thus, LGBTQ History Month was born.
On this anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, let us remember the courageous individuals who risked their safety and livelihoods to fight for LGBTQ+ rights.
Remembering Stonewall means recognizing the progress achieved while acknowledging that the fight for equality is far from over.
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