Remembering the Stonewall Riots


As the nation looks back on the most horrific attack towards people in following the Orlando shootings, it is important to remember how far we, the LGBT community, have come. Through and hardships, from micro-aggressions to mass shootings, it can be easy to forget the many victories that LGBT activists have fought for and won. The progenitor to these victories in the courts, prisons, marriage, and soon bathrooms, happened on this day, June 28, only 47 years ago, at the Inn.

It started on a warm Saturday morning, but the real heat came from the anger and frustration in the hearts of the LGBT community of Greenwich Village, New York. Oppression and discrimination had become routine, particularly for the most neglected members of the community: the drag queens, trans people, and homeless youth. Mafia-owned clubs and bars became some of the few havens the LGBT community could go to, as most business owners turned them away from their legal establishments.

Police routinely raided the few bars that accepted openly gay people back in the 1950s and 1960s, but tempers reached the boiling point during the 3:00 am raiding of the Stonewall Inn. Police began arresting Stonewall employees, before starting to escort patrons into paddy wagons. A crowd gathered outside, and as the police attempted to force three drag queens and a lesbian into a paddy wagon, the crowd became a riot, flinging bottles and fought back against the police.

The spilled into other neighborhoods. Protests and demonstrations sprung up over the following days. The begInning of a social movement for gay and trans justice and new lawmaking gave birth to the Gay Liberation Front and Street Transvestite Liberation Front. Founded by Stonewall veterans, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, these groups carved a path for countless more LGBT advocacy organizations to follow. Within only a few weeks, the trans and gay communities banded together to form safe spaces where people could be open about their genders and sexualities without fear of arrest. A sign reading,”We homosexuals plead with our people to please help maintain peaceful and quiet conduct on the streets of the Village” hung in the window of Stonewall.

One year later, June 28, 1970, the first Pride parades marched in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago, to commemorate the riots. Earlier this week, President Obama designated the Stonewall Inn as the first ever LGBT national monument, a reminder of where the fight for liberation and equality started.

Still to this day, the fight isn’t over. Queer and trans people, especially those of color, are harassed and discriminated by the same institutions, such as police, legislature, and incarceration, that the Stonewall riots rebelled against. Today, even going to the bathroom means risking ridicule, harassment, rape and . Queer and trans people still face punishment for being homeless. Choosing to go to a gay nightclub, some might never leave.

Today we remember our predecessors who took part in the Stonewall riots, and started a revolution that brought us a better, more accepting society. We remember the trans people, the drag queens, the lesbians, the bisexuals, the gays, and everyone else who took a stance and refused discrimination from the institutions that deemed hate to be lawful. Thanks to the brave people who first took charge in the Stonewall riots, we know it gets better. We know there is a light at the end of this tunnel, and that the fight is worth it.

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