Stonewall Riots

Samara Scott on Jun 26, 2024 1:05:42 PM

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Before 1966, LGBT patrons would be refused alcohol service at bars due to the risk of getting shut down. Thanks to activists' protests, these regulations were overturned, allowing bars to serve these patrons. Although, they still could not legally partake in "gay behavior," such as holding hands or dancing together. Police would often harass gay bars and bars operating without a liquor license (usually owned by the Mafia). 

Up to this point, Stonewall (and many other gay bars) would be raided countless times by police. During these raids, police would forcefully drag patrons and employees out, often arresting them. On the morning of June 28, 1969 , the police would raid the bar with a warrant, manhandling patrons and employees. They arrested thirteen people, including those suspected of wearing "gender non-conforming" clothes, and had their biological sex "verified" in the bathrooms.

Quickly becoming a full-blown riot, the police and a Village Voice Writer barricaded themselves inside the bar as the mob tried to set it on fire while breaching the barricades. The fire department and the riot squad showed up soon after, with the fire department successfully rescuing those trapped inside the burning bar while the riot squad dispersed the crowd. But the protesting would grow from just hundreds of people to thousands, continuing in the area over the next five days (which would escalate at one point after the Village Voice published their account of the riots).

Although the Stonewall Riots did not start (nor end) the gay rights movement, it is still a significant moment in history that shows the struggles of those who face discrimination in society. This one battle in the fight for acceptance would lead to the creation of many gay rights organizations, including the Gay Liberation Front, Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, and PFLAG. Although the battle for acceptance is still ongoing, celebrating how far we've come since June 28th, 1969 is worth celebrating.



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