June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month

As communities around the globe organize Pride parades and other events for the month of June, it is important to remember that the first Pride parade was born out of a riot between police and patrons of the Stonewall Inn.

On June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn, a popular Greenwich Village bar frequented by the LGBTQ community was raided by the police. This act alone was not out of the ordinary. Police raids were common at the time. Being gay was illegal in every state except for Illinois. Restaurants and bars could find themselves shut down just for having gay employees or for catering to gay customers. Dancing between members of the same sex could even shut a business down. The Genovese crime family actually controlled the nightlife scene on Manhattan’s West Side at the time, and often paid the police to “turn a blind eye” to what was happening in their bars and clubs.

Not even the mafia could stop the Stonewall Riots from taking shape though, and the NYPD began arresting employees of the Stonewall for operating with an illegal liquor license at the start of the week, on June 24, 1969. The police returned again late on the 27th to raid the establishments and make arrests, but just after midnight on the 28th, the crowd began to resist, this time fighting back against the police. Bottles were thrown, tires were slashed, and the crowd grew in size and agitation. The more police pushed back, the louder and more unruly the crowd became.

Eventually the police had no choice but to retreat, and their humiliation would bring them back the next night. This time, however, there would be over a thousand people in and around the streets surrounding the Stonewall Inn ready to greet them. The police launched tear gas at the crowd and beat anyone showing resistance. This battled continued until 4 in the morning when the crowd finally dispersed.

The nights that followed also brought out protesters, but their overall interaction with police was less confrontational than the previous nights.

A year later, on June 28, 1970, New York’s first Gay Pride parade (the Christopher Street Liberation March) set off from the Stonewall Inn as hundreds of people marched up 6th Avenue, gaining supporters along the way and eventually spanning the length of 15 city blocks. Other cities including Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco also organized their own pride celebrations that same year, and the

Inspired by New York’s example, activists in other cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, and Chicago, organized gay pride celebrations that same year. The activism that followed the events at Stonewall would eventually inspire additional human rights activism around the globe for decades.