Each year on the 28th June we observe the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots which took place on this date back in 1969.
What Were The Stonewall Riots?
The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous demonstrations by members of the gay community in response to a police raid that began in the early hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in located within the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.
Patrons of the Stonewall, other Village lesbian and gay bars, and people throughout the neighborhood fought back when the police unfortunately became violent and hostile. The Stonewall riots are widely considered as a watershed event which transformed the gay liberation movement alongside the 20th century fight for LGBT rights within the US.
As for many gay bars at this time, the Stonewall Inn was owned and operated by the Mafia. Although police raids on gay bars were a common occurrence and routine back in the 1960's, police quickly lost control of the situation at the Stonewall Inn.
Second Night of Riots & Beyond
As the first night of riots began to close, tensions between New York City police and residents of Greenwich Village further erupted into further protests and riots through the following evening and again several nights later with over a week of riots and tension ensuing.
Within the following weeks, village residents set out and organised activist groups with the demand to live openly regarding their sexual orientation without the fear of being arrested for being their true self. The new activist organisations concentrated on confrontational tactics, and within months three newspapers were established to promote rights for gay men and lesbians.
Forward Momentum After Riots
Fast forward to one year after the Stonewall Riots, to mark the first anniversary on June 28, 1970m the first gay pride marches took place within Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. Within a few years after the Stonewall Riots, gay rights organisations were founded throughout the US and across the globe with LGBTQ+ Pride events being held annually in June to honor the Stonewall riots, with further events now being part of the yearly calendar in many cities.
The Stonewall Riots ignited huge protests around the US which was mirrored in other parts of the world to push for equal rights. The riots also led to the creation of the Gay Liberation Front which was the first group to publicly advocate for gay equal rights.
In 2016, the Stonewall National Monument was established at the Stonewall sight with an estimated 5 million participants commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising.
Lastly on the 6th June, 2019, New York City Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill rendered a formal apology on for the actions of officers at Stonewall in 1969.
Back in 2018, 59 years on from the Stonewall Riots uprising, Stonewall Day was announced as a commemoration day by Pride Live, a social advocacy and community engagement organisation.
The second Stonewall Day taking place on Friday, 28th June, 2019, Pride Live introduced their Stonewall Ambassadors program, to raise awareness for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Those appearing at the event included: Alicia Keys, Alex Newell, Lady Gaga, Whoopi Goldberg, Wilson Cruz plus many more!
Stonewall Riots Impact On Today's Culture
The riots are widely considered to constitute one of the most important events leading to the gay liberation movement and the twentieth century fight for LGBT rights in the United States. Gay Americans in the 1950s and 1960s faced an anti-gay legal system.
The Stonewall Riots ignited the much needed requirement for change and equality which is still being fought for in today's culture. Although there are so many hurdles that must be tackled to reach a more diverse, equal and accepting culture, the Stonewall Riots definitely had a significant impact on today's culture and without the riots taking place, who knows where we would be as a community!
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