As we reach the halfway point of Pride Month and continue the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in our country and around the world, it is important to remember the heroes who history has bulldozed over who have helped us reach the point in our struggle for equality that we are at today. The Stonewall riots of the 1960s marked a major milestone in LGBTQ+ community’s fight for equal rights, but unfortunately the minorities who excelled this movement are often forgotten in our history books and lessons.
The Stonewall riot originally took place June 28, 1969 at around 3 am after a police raid of the Stonewall Inn, continuing a pattern of police raids on gay clubs. The raid, although justified as the club was serving alcohol without a liquor license, sparked protest from the club’s patrons that extended into the streets after police were violent while arresting employees of the club and visitors.
This initial riot sparked a series of violent clashes between members of the gay community and local law enforcement, now considered to be the first major protest for LGBTQ+ rights in the United States, planting the seed for future protests to come that are continuing into this Pride Month.
Along with catalyzing future equal rights movements to come, the Stonewall riot was a pivotal moment for the LGBTQ+ community in New York at the time as it represented an act of rebellion against the harsh treatment of the state’s government toward this community. Apart from the frequent raids on gay clubs, there were several laws in place that openly discriminated against people who did not conform to cis-normative standards.
For example, in New York City, police officers were allowed to arrest people who were not wearing at least three articles of “gender-appropriate” clothing. Along with this, solicitation of homosexual relations was prohibited under New York City law. This culture of intolerance created the need for gay clubs and bars, allowing people who were normally discriminated against to have a safe space to express themselves.
Now, with our country reaching two years since the legalization of same-sex marriage, we have come a long way from the Stonewall riots. However, with our current administration’s treatment of the LGBTQ+ community, it is important to remember that while we have come a long way, we have quite a distance to go and need to continue the fight for equality for all people, regardless of who they love.