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50 years ago, the Stonewall Riots started the Gay Rights Movement

Posted on
Jun 28, 2019

Today, June 28th marks the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. This moment in history is often remembered as the spark that started the modern gay rights movement. While there was advocacy before Stonewall, the actions of the New York LGBT community were seen around the world. Yet even though it is an extremely important moment in our history, many people don’t actually know what happened at Stonewall 50 years ago. Below we have provided some information on Stonewall and some of the important moments that followed in the fight for LGBT rights.

On June 28, 1969, a New York City police raid on a bar in Greenwich Village sparked riots that would go on to launch the modern gay rights movement. Fifty years later, the Stonewall uprising is still recognized throughout the month of June and this year the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities and their allies are hitting the streets again.

Heritage of Pride, the non-profit organization that hosts New York City's official Pride Month events each June, is holding a rally Friday to "re-imagine" the experience of that day 50 years ago.

The Stonewall riots began in the early hours of June 28, 1969, when police conducted a raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar -- the largest in the United States at the time. Raids on gay bars were routine at the time, but on this particular night, the patrons of the bar resisted.

A crowd outside the bar grew angry and began throwing objects at police as they attempted,pted to arrest and haul away people from inside the bar. Police barricaded themselves inside the bar to await reinforcements from the fire department and specialists trained in riot control.

Spontaneous demonstrations broke out at the site and the group marched around the neighborhood, convening at nearby Christopher Park.

The riots and demonstrations were held off and on over the course of another five days or so. For many people in the LGBT communities, the Stonewall riots marked the moment when they could move from living their lives in secret to fighting for equal rights and protections.

Earlier this month, the New York Police Department issued a formal apology for the force's actions during the 1969 riots.

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"The actions and the laws were discriminatory and oppressive, and for that, I apologize," Commissioner James P. O'Neill said during a news conference. "I vow to the [LGBT] community that this would never happen in the NYPD in 2019. We have, and we do, embrace all New Yorkers."

Friday's rally outside the Stonewall Inn is expected to feature speakers Barbara Poma, the owner of the Pulse Nighclub in Orlando, Fla., and Harnaam Kaur, a body positivity activist and model.

Two days later is the big event, the Pride March, which begins near Madison Square Park in the Flatiron District neighborhood. Among the grand marshals at this year's parade are cast members from FX series Pose -- Dominque Jackson, Indya Moore and MJ Rodriguez -- activists Phyll Opoku-Gyimah and Monica Helms, and members of the Trevor Project and the Gay Liberation Front.

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