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A History of Gay and Lesbian Pride

The Stonewall Riots



The Stonewall Inn in 2014

@ Kathy Belge

Each year in June gays and lesbians prance and parade to celebrate Gay Pride Month. The history of Gay Pride Celebrations began in 1969 in Greenwich Village, New York City at the Stonewall Inn.

At the time, it was common all over the United States for police to raid gay and lesbian bars. While they were purportedly looking for liquor law or other violations, patrons were arrested and dragged off to jail with no legitimate charges. The names of those arrested were often published in the papers and many of those people were fired from their jobs as a result.

In 1969 bars were about the only places gays and lesbians could gather in public. Most times, when the police would raid a bar, the gay and lesbian clientele would try to slip out the back or cower in the corners.

The Stonewall Riots

But on the night of June 27th, 1969 something different happened. When police raided the Stonewall Inn, the butch lesbians and drag queens fought back. The bar patrons threw bottles and rocks at the police. They chanted, “Gay Power!” For several nights crowds grew outside the Stonewall Inn.

Word quickly spread around the country about the gay people who fought back against the police. The event became known as the Stonewall Rebellion or Stonewall Riots. Although there was a small gay rights movement around the country prior to Stonewall, after 1969 the movement changed.

The 1960s was a time of revolution. The Civil Rights Movement was in full swing and people took to the streets to protest the war in Vietnam. It was only a matter of time before gays and lesbians stood up for their rights as well.

Ever since, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people celebrate pride and call for basic civil rights by commemorating Stonewall. In New York City they march on the last Saturday in June. Across the US and all over the world, gays and lesbians remember the brave men and women of Stonewall every June in Gay Pride celebrations.

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