In Issue 25

Stonewall – by Scott Holland & Peter Clark

Question: In which country did the following events happen?

• The police departments keep lists of
known  homosexuals, their favorite establishments and their friends.

• The postal service keeps track of
addresses where material pertaining to homosexuality is mailed.

• Bars catering to homosexuals
are shut down.

• Homosexual bar customers are arrested and exposed in newspapers.

• Cities perform sweeps to rid neighborhoods, parks, bars and beaches of gays.

• They outlaw the wearing of opposite
gender clothes.

• Universities expel instructors suspected
 of being homosexual.

• Thousands of gay men and lesbians are jailed, fired, or institutionalized in
mental hospitals.

• Homosexuality was considered to be a sociopathic personality disturbance.

Was It:
A. Estonia
B. North Korea
C. Iran
D. Lithuania
E. Kazakhstan
F. Venezuela

It was a trick
question; the correct
answer is the
Unites States of America
in the ’50s and ’60s.

All too often, we take certain rights for granted because our constitution says they are inalienable. Not so for the gay community. Think about it: it was only 40 years ago in what was, at the time, considered an advanced developed nation. Gays were often thought of as blight on the American fabric. Because of this and many other injustices that were done to the GLBT community the Stonewall riots occurred.
 The riots were a spontaneous series of demonstrations against unfair police raids at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City, including in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969. The Stonewall riots are considered by many to be the birth of the gay rights movement. The Stonewall Inn was reportedly owned by the mafia and catered to an eclectic group of people including transvestites, hustlers, effeminate young men and homeless youth. The night after the raid tensions between the NYPD and the residents of Greenwich Village erupted into more protests. “I ran door to door that night asking gay establishments to get everyone out on the streets,” said a prominent bar patron and witness that night. He also told Hotspots that he wants to remain nameless. “I could not believe my eyes, this was not a pretty sight, cars on fire, people being hurt; it was hard to believe this was happening in America!” “I still get emotional thinking about it.” Protests went on for weeks as the message spread across the country.

This was seen as a rallying cry to gay Americans to unite and fight for fundamental rights. Within weeks activist groups were organized to establish places where the GLBT community could meet openly and talk about their sexual orientation without the fear of being harassed or arrested. One year later on June 28, 1970 the first gay pride marches took place in Los Angeles and in New York City commemorating the anniversary of the riots. Today, 40 years later, gay pride events are held in every major city across the country and around the world.

Let’s never forget the dedication and sacrifice of these brave souls and what they did for all of us in the LBGT community. Because of the Stonewall riots, we can walk the streets and not have to apologize to anyone about our sexual orientation. We still have a long way to go but if the past is any indication, the future for the LBGT community looks bright!
Stand proud, stand united!



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