The Importance Of Stonewall 44 Years Later
In 1969, New York City was shaken by a series of violent clashes between the LGBT community and police. This week, as the Supreme Court passed its historical decisions on marriage equality, people gathered at the Stonewall Inn to hear the news.
The Stonewall Inn has become an iconic landmark and symbol representing the struggle of the LGBT community toward equality:
This past Wednesday morning, New Yorkers gathered at Stonewall to await the Supreme Court's rulings on Prop 8 and DOMA:
The scene was warm, welcoming, and full of joy as patrons celebrated the decisions:
Later that evening, the streets outside Stonewall were once again filled with smiling faces as a rally was held in celebration:
On that same street 44 years ago, the scene outside Stonewall was very different.
At the time, there were very few places you could be openly gay.
The Stonewall Inn was a haven where the LGBT community could feel welcome:
The infamous riots of 1969 began as a group of gay customers were being harrassed by the police and decided to take a stand.
A full riot broke out, with LGBT individuals all joining in to defend themselves against the police.
Scott G. Brown, one of the oldest surviving veterans of the Stonewall Inn raid, said of that night:
They were all pretty, prissy, and made up, with their tight dresses and high heels. As the policemen pushed and hurried them to the waiting paddy wagons, one of the drag queens' heels broke off, so she removed both her shoes as the nudging and poking with billy clubs continued. One of the drag queens nudged a policeman in the groin with an elbow while another threw a shoe that struck another officer. Then all hell broke loose! Bottles, rocks, and garbage-can Lids went flying through the air as the cops called for backup!
What followed would be days of skirmishes between LGBT individuals and the New York Police Department:
The historic incident marked a major turning point for the gay civil rights movement in the U.S.:
Author David Carter wrote of the riots:
"The true legacy of the Stonewall riots is the ongoing struggle for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. While the fight is far from over, it is now a worldwide movement that has won many significant victories, most of them flowing from those six days in the summer of 1969 when gay people found the courage to stand up for themselves on the streets of Greenwich Village."