Let's talk about... The Stonewall Riots

Hello Readers,
Today marks a very important day for the LGBT community, 50 years ago today the Stonewall riots started. The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid that began in the early hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village, New York City.

At the time, bars such as the Mafia-run gay bar The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York, were the only safe spaces where queer people could come together and form their own community. To get around state regulations that prohibited gay people from being served alcohol, mafioso "Fat Tony" Lauria operated the Stonewall Inn as a private club, taking its name from the previous bar-restaurant so he wouldn't have to change the sign. Management typically bribed the police to tip them off in advance however that night there was no tip-off.

On June 28, 1969, a riot broke out at the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in downtown Manhattan. Police had been known to raid the club from time to time, but on that night, the patrons fought back against police discrimination and the police intended to arrest everyone in the club that night because of their resistance. As they waited for support to arrive, a crowd gathered outside the bar, trapping the police inside. Soon, patrol wagons arrived to transport the patrons to prison.

According to LGBT legend, it was Marsha P Johnson who threw the first Molotov cocktail at Stonewall, but it has long been debated if it was actually her friend Sylvia Rivera. However, in interviews before her death, Sylvia said “I have been given the credit for throwing the first Molotov cocktail by many historians, but I always like to correct it. I threw the second one. I did not throw the first one!”

A protest broke out, with police and community members clashing through the night, and for the rest of the week. Night after night, more and more protesters returned to Christopher Street, where Stonewall is located, to protest the mistreatment and discrimination they suffered at the hands of the police.

Weeks later, a "gay power" march from Washington Square Park to Stonewall that drew hundreds of people. On June 28, 1970, thousands of people returned to Greenwich Village for the first Christoper Street Liberation Day march. It became an annual event and evolved into the Pride parade, which is marked every year in New York and other cities across the world. As you can see originally, Pride was a political demonstration to voice LGBT demands for equal rights and protections. It wasn’t until 1991 that Pride began to resemble what it is today: a celebration of queer life and sexuality in addition to a political and social demonstration.

Last year at London Pride the lesbian and feminist group Get The L Out. The group argues the trans movement is attacking lesbian rights and said it protested to protect those rights. You do know you have Pride because of two transgender women right… A transgender woman and a transgender woman of colour started The Stonewall Riots causing the protests that eventually turned into the parades you know today.

L x