The Stonewall Riots are considered one of the most influential, revolutionary, and inspiring events of the 20th century. But, this incredible event has often been omitted from the history textbooks and general society (albeit from one modern film that had major details either missing or changed). What were the Stonewall Riots? Why did they occur? And what change did they cause for one of the most hated minorities in both America and the world?
The 1960s were a time for change; the civil rights movement was in full swing, feminism was on the rise, and antiwar protests were a common occurrence throughout the world. But the LGBT+ community still suffered greatly, with homophobia fuelled violence and murders still high and the number of homeless youth unbelievable. Although the creation of groups such as the Mattachine Society and the Chicago Society for Human Rights fought for the rights of the most marginalised LGBT+ people there was still a lot to do to get society at large to accept this community. The only refuge to be found was in the bars, clubs, and dance halls that catered specifically to LGBT+ patrons. Unfortunately, with these often Mafia-run establishments came frequent raids and improper treatment from the staff and managers.
In the early hours of the morning, on Saturday the 28th of June, 1969, the police conducted a raid on the famous Stonewall Inn, a club located in the Greenwich Village district of New York. This was not an uncommon occurrence, with the club being raided multiple times in its history. This night, however, the patrons had had enough. In what could only be described as astounding the gay, lesbian, trans, and drag patrons, most of them from the streets, rebelled and stood up for themselves. This evolved quickly from taunting those attempting to bust up the club, with the more flamboyant posing and putting on a show upon exiting, to an all out riot that resulted in the police being forced to barricade themselves in the very place they were trying to raid. This was the first time in US history that the police were repelled during a riot and forced to run, and all of this from a group of people characteristically labelled as weak and ‘fairies’. The riots continued well into the night and were only broken up when the Tactical Police Force came in, and even then the taunting, humour, and rebellion continued. For three more nights the protesting continued and, rather than die off, grew into a number of massively influential groups (such as the short-lived but highly-progressive Gay Liberation Front) that not only protested for but demanded that LGBT+ individuals be heard, loved, and allowed to be out without fear of persecution, assault, or death.
The events of that night cannot be adequately shortened to 100, 500, 1000, or even 1 million words. The controversial nature of the riots brought together a group of people who often felt alone and ashamed and made them proud to be who they were. Whilst this is not the only major event in the history of LGBT+ rights, it is certainly one of the most significant, and should always be remembered as the day when the oppressed said ‘No More’ and the rights for everyone fought for.
*This article was not supposed to be posted just yet, but in light of recent events we feel it necessary to post to show this blog’s opinion and solidarity with those affected in Orlando. If you would like to ask for clarification, or have any more facts to add, please let us know via the ‘Contact Us’ page.
Picture credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkARvA4dPwM