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The History and Legacy of the Stonewall Rebellion

In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn was raided by police. But how and why did these raids occur?

 This past Friday marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, a monumental event for the LGBTQ+  rights movement which sparked awareness and activism around the world. As pride month ends, I wanted to share some background on the importance of Stonewall.

The Stonewall Inn  is a gay bar in Greenwich Village in New York that was originally owned by members of the mafia. The owners would regularly bribe members of the NYPD to ignore activities in the bar. Raids would still occur, but often with a tip-off to the owners, allowing them to hide their alcohol stashes and warn patrons. A typical raid would include asking for ID from all patrons and taking people dressed as women to the bathroom to verify their sex - literal gender policing. Those without an ID or who weren’t wearing gender conforming clothing, were detained and arrested. For wealthy patrons, there were different risks associated with frequenting the bar. These customers were blackmailed by the owners in order to keep their sexuality a secret. These patrons would be required to payoff the mafia members or risk being shamed publicly due to their gender identity and/or sexual orientation. It was also pretty typical that people would lose their employment if their identity was revealed. 

On June 28, 1969, the owners of the bar were not tipped off about the police raid. Patrons were arrested for “solicitation of homosexual relations” and drag queens were arrested for wearing “non-gender appropriate clothing”. The patrons retaliated by throwing beer cans and coins. A large crowd was formed and the resistance ensued for two more nights. While other gay bars had similar raids and retaliation, Stonewall is forever remembered for setting off tribute protests and the beginning of expressions of Gay Pride.

On the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, organizers had the first pride parade in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. By 1972, Boston, Dallas, DC, London, Paris, and many other large cities joined in having Gay Pride parades in June. Baltimore held its first Pride in 1975. On Saturday, , June 29, 2019 NYC hosted WorldPride and was anticipated to be the largest Pride Celebration in history.

For more info on Stonewall: https://www.history.com/topics/gay-rights/the-stonewall-riots

Written by: Sofia Encarnacion, Student Diversity and Inclusion Peer

Posted: July 1, 2019, 1:50 PM