What Occurred at the Stonewall Inn?

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The Stonewall Inn is a historic gay bar in New York City. In June 1969, a police raid at the bar triggered a series of protests and demonstrations known as the Stonewall riots. The LGBTQ+ community, who faced discrimination and harassment, fought back against the police. This event is considered a turning point in the LGBTQ+ rights movement, as it led to the formation of activist organizations and sparked a wave of advocacy for equal rights. The Stonewall riots are commemorated every year during Pride Month, celebrating the progress made in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights.


Do you believe it is significant to adhere to the regulations? Most children would respond “Yes!” And for good reason – after all, numerous regulations and laws are in place to ensure people’s safety. However, sometimes the answer isn’t so straightforward. Imagine a law that is unjust or that harms people. Would you still choose to comply with it?

When individuals believe a law is unjust, they may request government officials to change it. They may bring a case to the Supreme Court for a decision. Or they may participate in a protest. Have you read about the Civil Rights Movement or the Hong Kong protests? If so, you might already be aware of the impact these events can have.

Today’s Wonder of the Day focuses on another protest movement that has had a significant impact on the world. It was led by LGBTQIA+ individuals who felt they were being treated unfairly under the law. These protests, known as the Stonewall Uprising, began on June 28, 1969.

In 1969, individuals identifying as LGBTQIA+ faced various forms of discrimination. In the U.S., they were unable to marry their romantic partners or adopt children. They were also prohibited from working for the federal government. These are just a few examples of how laws marginalized LGBTQIA+ individuals within society.

In certain places, including New York City, it was even illegal to serve LGBTQIA+ individuals alcohol. That is why the Stonewall Inn, a well-known gathering place for the LGBTQIA+ community, was frequently targeted by the police. It was common for law enforcement to show up unannounced at the inn. Once there, they would arrest the owners, employees, and many patrons.

On June 28, 1969, that’s what occurred – police officers arrived at the Stonewall Inn at around 1:00 a.m. They placed several individuals in handcuffs. However, something changed. Instead of dispersing, the people who had been inside the Stonewall Inn gathered just outside. It wasn’t long before they were joined by residents of the surrounding community.

Together, the group of approximately 600 individuals led a protest against the actions of the police and the laws they enforced. Eventually, the protest escalated into a riot. People threw bricks, set fires in garbage cans, and vandalized property. The police officers sought shelter and waited for backup; eventually, 13 people were arrested.

The Stonewall Uprising continued for a total of six nights. Thousands of people gathered to protest the unfair treatment of LGBTQIA+ individuals. A few individuals emerged as leaders of the movement.

One of the leaders was Marsha P. Johnson, a Black transgender woman and LGBTQIA+ rights activist. She was accompanied by her friend, Sylvia Rivera, a transgender Latina woman. Together, Johnson and Rivera went on to establish STAR House, a safe haven for homeless LGBTQIA+ youth and others.

The Stonewall Uprising took place in New York, but its impact spread far and wide. On June 28, 1970, thousands of LGBTQIA+ individuals marched in New York City on the anniversary of the riots. Today, this is considered the first Pride Parade in the U.S.

Today, communities throughout the U.S. celebrate LGBTQIA+ Pride Month in June. Many other countries around the world also observe Pride Month – some in June and others at different times of the year. Do you know anyone who identifies as LGBTQIA+? If so, take some time to have a conversation with them about what Pride Month signifies. They may be able to help you learn more!

Give It a Try

Interested in learning more? Enlist the assistance of a friend or family member for these activities!

  • Reflect on a time when you were treated unjustly. How did it make you feel? How did you respond? Whom did you confide in? Did you receive assistance? Compose a brief narrative about the incident and share it with a friend or family member.
  • The LGBTQIA+ community often uses a rainbow flag as a symbol of pride. Take a look at these images of the rainbow flag and discover its significance. Now, grab some crayons or markers and create your own rainbow flag. Seek the help of a friend or family member!
  • Marsha P. Johnson was one of the prominent figures in the LGBTQIA+ movement. Learn more about her life and contributions. Where was she born? Which organizations did she establish? Share your newfound knowledge with a friend or family member.
  • There are various ways individuals engage in activism. Read this article about different methods you can employ and discuss with a friend or family member which ones you could utilize to support a cause that matters to you.

Useful Sources

  • https://thestonewallinnnyc.com/the-stonewall-inn-story/2017/4/4/ntmsg5ni7iixxdjimmg16hz6dvsi4v (accessed 19 July 2021)
  • https://www.nyclgbtsites.org/site/stonewall-inn-christopher-park/ (accessed 19 July 2021)
  • https://www.nps.gov/places/stonewall-national-monument.htm (accessed 19 July 2021)
  • https://ucnj.org/mpj/about-marsha-p-johnson/ (accessed 19 July 2021)
  • https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/sylvia-rivera (accessed 19 July 2021)
  • https://learnersdictionary.com/ (accessed 19 July 2021)

FAQ

1. What is the Stonewall Inn?

The Stonewall Inn is a historic bar located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. It became widely known as the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement after a series of protests took place there in 1969.

2. Why is the Stonewall Inn significant?

The Stonewall Inn is significant because it was the site of the Stonewall riots, a series of spontaneous demonstrations by members of the LGBTQ+ community in response to a police raid on June 28, 1969. The riots marked a turning point in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, galvanizing the community and leading to the formation of numerous LGBTQ+ organizations and advocacy groups.

3. What happened during the Stonewall riots?

During the Stonewall riots, police raided the Stonewall Inn, which was a popular gathering place for the LGBTQ+ community. Instead of dispersing as they usually did, the patrons and other activists fought back, leading to several days of protests, clashes with law enforcement, and acts of resistance. The riots were a response to the ongoing harassment and discrimination faced by the LGBTQ+ community.

4. Who were the key figures involved in the Stonewall riots?

While there were many individuals involved in the Stonewall riots, some key figures emerged from the events. Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Stormé DeLarverie are often recognized as prominent figures in the resistance. Their actions and leadership during the riots played a significant role in the subsequent LGBTQ+ rights movement.

5. What impact did the Stonewall riots have on LGBTQ+ rights?

The Stonewall riots had a profound impact on LGBTQ+ rights. They sparked a wave of activism and mobilization within the community, leading to the formation of numerous LGBTQ+ organizations and advocacy groups. The riots are often considered the catalyst for the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement, inspiring subsequent protests, pride parades, and legislative efforts aimed at achieving equality and ending discrimination.

6. How is the Stonewall Inn memorialized today?

Today, the Stonewall Inn is recognized as a National Historic Landmark and is an important symbol of LGBTQ+ history. It serves as a reminder of the struggles faced by the community and the progress that has been made. The Stonewall Inn is often visited by tourists and activists alike and continues to be a gathering place for LGBTQ+ individuals and allies.

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