By Neil Martis. (He/She/They) | Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
The Stonewall Riots, began in the early hours of June 28, 1969; when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City. This event served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.
At the time, homosexual acts remained illegal in every state except Illinois, and bars and restaurants could get shut down for having gay employees or serving gay patrons. Most gay bars and clubs in New York at the time (including the Stonewall) were operated by the Mafia, who paid corrupt police officers to look the other way and blackmailed wealthy gay patrons by threatening to “out” them. After several raids, the gay patrons and drag queens decided to fight back against the NYC police officers and the first brick was thrown at Stonewall as a sign of resistance against the constant torture that the gays and the drag queens were being subjected to.
The following night, several other gay people and drag queens came back to Stonewall, although alcohol was not served and started chanting declarations like “Gay Power” and “We Shall Overcome.” Marsha P. Johnson, who is a Transgender woman of color, is said to have been instrumental in the Stonewall Uprising of 1969. Which then lead to the first ever Pride parade in New York, exactly a year later, on June 28, 1970. The Stonewall Inn still exists today, and it is a huge spot for people of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, who are now aware of it’s significance.