This Day in Gay History

This Day in GAY History: Stonewall Riots - 1969

On this day in GAY history, June 28, 1969, exactly 49 years ago, the Stonewall Inn was raided by police.

The pretext for the police invasion into the bar was for selling liquor without a proper liquor license, but every attendee knew the real reason - homophobia. Homosexuality was a crime in 1969 and in addition to arresting several Stonewall Inn employees, the police also arrested anyone at the Stonewall Inn who was not wearing at least three articles of "gender appropriate clothing." 

This was not the first time the Stonewall Inn and other bars like it had been raided. In fact, the Stonewall Inn, a "known homo nest" had been raided just days before the infamous raid on June 28, 1969. 

This time was different; however because this time, the community fought back. Stonewall Inn patrons began throwing bottles and shouting at the police which dragged the individuals into the streets. The skirmish launched a full blown riot in the streets surrounding the Stonewall Inn and eventually the entire West Village was aflame with the anger of injustice.

As one historian notes,

"Their anger was apparent and vocal as they watched bar patrons being forced into a police van. They began to jeer at and jostle the police and then threw bottles and debris. Accustomed to more passive behavior, even from larger gay groups, the policemen called for reinforcements and barricaded themselves inside the bar while some 400 people rioted. The police barricade was repeatedly breached, and the bar was set on fire." 

The riots continued outside the Stonewall Inn for approximately five days thereafter. Most significantly; however, it was the first time that the gay and lesbian community banned together for a common cause: justice and equality. 

The community has been banning together ever since and we have grown stronger than ever. The last 49 years has seen a massive overhaul of the gay rights movement, and in 2015 the Supreme Court of the United State declared same sex marriage legal in all fifty states. 

On this day in GAY history, June 28, 1989,  we thank those who were brave enough to stand up for what was right 49 years later at the Stonewall Inn. 

 

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