Gay pride month: what were the stonewall riots and when and where did they take place?
New York City’s annual Pride March commemorates the 1969 uprising by members of the LGBTQ community at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village.
The majority of pride events taking place in the US every year are based around the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in 1969. That’s why the marches take place on the last weekend of June, as the riot took place on June 28 1969.
Beginning in the early 1960s, tensions between police and gay, queer, and transgender communities started to intensify. The US, and much of the western world, was in the midst of an intensifying civil rights liberation movement. By 1969, important legislation had been passed to break segregation in the US, while Europe had been swept by uprising for freedoms the year before.
However, not everyone had yet fought for their liberties. The gay community in the US was persecuted and it would take many decades until sexual conducted between two people of the same sex was protected by the constitution.
The central event that sparked the beginning of the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement was the Stonewall riot.
The police raided the Stonewall Inn and the raid became violent. Dozens were arrested, but the event became the beginning of an organised fight for the LGBTQ+ community. Protests continued the following week and were supported by the first annual marches the following year. Thousands returned to Greenwich Village, the location of the inn, in 1970.
“There were no floats, no music, no boys in briefs. The cops turned their backs on us to convey their disdain, but the masses of people kept carrying signs and banners, chanting and waving to surprised onlookers,” Fred Sargent said of the first march.
“It was only after the march that these gay pioneers realized what might be possible.”
Despite occuring in the US, the event became the spark for similar gay liberation movements across the world. The UK’s largest LGBTQ+ rights charity is named Stonewall in honour of the riots.
Today, the Stonewall National Monument marks the riot and it was erected on June 24, 2016.