The past few years the LGBTQIA+ community has taken in many victories; DOMA was found to be unconstitutional, and with the most recent judicial decision LGBTQIA+ can legally marry in all 50 states. Lost to many is just how deep the LGBTQIA+ history is. Today, I will start a series of articles that focus on LGBTQIA+ history: the early trailblazers, the unsung heroes, and the lost history of those from generations ago.
Proud in Pride: Stonewall
It is hard to imagine the events that would unfold on the night of June 28, 1969. Located in Greenwich Village, Stonewall Inn would be the site constituting the single most important event leading to queer liberation and today’s queer rights movement. The remainder of the decade became very contentious as civil rights and antiwar demonstrations became very active social movements and queer Americans faced a legal scheme that was more hostile than communist countries provided the catalyst for the Stonewall Riots.
It was difficult to find establishments that would cater to homosexuals/queer people during the 1950s and 1960s and most of those establishments were bars. Stonewall Inn has seen a variety of patrons but proved to be most popular among the queer community, especially those marginalized within the community including drag queens, sissy men, male prostitutes, homeless youth, and queer people of color.
During this time, police raids were common and at 1:20 four plainclothes officers, two uniformed policemen, and a detective arrived at Stonewall Inn and what had been contrived as a routine raid, quickly incited a riot. In a display of solidarity, with the community of Greenwich Village assembled, joined those patrons of Stonewall Inn, fighting back against harassment and brutality.
The resulting aftermath saw the queer liberation move forward, provided courage to those who wanted to speak up, and unknown at the time, the incident at Stonewall and the resulting riots that would last for 4 days and would become the cornerstone of our liberation. To those who found the courage to speak out, stand up, and fight: we thank you.
The queer community has faced adversity for centuries and even though it is easy for us to remember our most recent victories, it is important to remind ourselves that our campaign started way before the events at Stonewall. Our story was rich and remembering our brothers and sisters from generations ago embodies the spirit of pride. Let us not forget the courage of those before us who gave us the platform for our voices to be heard and who laid the foundation on which we march on today.