On June 28, 1969, patrons of a gay bar in Greenwich Village—the Stonewall Inn—tired of the constant harassment by the NYPD, protested against the latest raid. When police became violent toward the protesters, the gay community fought back in what turned into nearly a week of riots—known today as the Stonewall Uprising. Thus was born the modern gay-rights movement.
Within weeks, activists demanded the right to live openly and without fear of arrest. Newspapers and magazines appeared a few months after the riots advocating activism for equal treatment. A year later, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles held the first gay pride marches.
The Stonewall Riots were the beginning of the battle for equality in the United States. Despite 53 years of fighting for our rights, those in the LGBTQ+ community know that more is yet to come. Recent events have shown how backward our courts are willing to drag our country. While that is a discussion for another post, I did want to mention these affairs concerning what these new upheavals mean to the citizens of this country and the world.
It wasn’t until June 26, 2015, that the Supreme Court of the United States ruled same-sex marriage to be legal in all 50 states. Until then, First Reader and I, and many couples like us, had few legal rights under the law. Even living together for decades is no guarantee that families disagreeing with a particular “lifestyle” won’t swoop in after a loved one dies and take everything from the surviving partner. It’s happened time and again.
The Stonewall Riots are as ingrained in the psyche of the LGBTQ+ community as the Revolution is in the American people. It’s our rallying cry for equal treatment and a beacon of hope for our youth who define themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, asexual, intersex, pansexual, or any other orientation. You matter. You are here for a reason, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Like I told my grandson, who recently came out to me as gay, “nobody belongs in your head but you. Their harsh words are their fears and insecurities, not yours.”