Forty-three years ago today, the police raided New York City’s Stonewall Inn, as they had in many other gay bars on many other nights. But on June 28, 1969, the patrons fought back. An all-out riot ensued as the gay men refused to produce their identification and the lesbians were tired of being touched inappropriately while being frisked. Most of all, they were altogether through with being made to feel unwelcome in the one place outside of their homes that they could be themselves. The gathering crowd overtook the police and violence ensued, but what came from these events was the beginning of the collective fight of our community. Instead of doing the quiet work that had been existing in secret during the ’50s and ’60s, the Stonewall Riot inspired the outness and activism that has grown to what is a powerful existence today.
Photo by Fred W. McDarrah
On the 43rd anniversary of Stonewall, here are some ways you can celebrate and remember.
1. Watch a documentary.
Stonewall Uprising, Before Stonewall/After Stonewall and PBS’ In The Life‘ “Summer of Stonewall” are all focused on the historic event, as well as the context of the times that preceded and followed.
2. Read our interview with “the Stonewall lesbian.”
Two years ago we talked with Stormé DeLarverie, who was part of a drag troupe in the ’50s and was also at the Stonewall Inn for the riots, where she was mistaken for a man.
3. Hit the library.
And check out Gay Power! The Stonewall Riots and the Gay Rights Movement, Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution and the aptly titled Stonewall.
4. Explore the net.
5. Go to a gay bar.
And if it can’t be the Stonewall Inn (which still exists), then maybe find the oldest one near you and be glad you don’t need a password and a secret map to get in.
Besides Pride, have you ever celebrated Stonewall or the history of the day?