By Tess Joseph
In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar located in Manhattan. The police frisked patrons, hit people’s heads with batons, and took those dressed in traditionally feminine clothing to the bathroom to “check their sex.” The raid of Stonewall wasn’t the first time police had used violence against the LGBTQIA+ community, and it wasn’t the last. But what’s particularly notable about that morning isn’t necessarily the raid—as History.com states, there were “constant raids” of gay bars in the 1960s—but rather the riot that followed. David Carter notes that this riot lasted for six days, involved thousands, received significant media attention, and engendered a “new kind of militant organization” and a new political ideology, “gay liberation.”
The movement for LGBTQIA+ folks has grown significantly since Stonewall. Organizations have coalesced and disbanded, ideologies have formed and challenged. While Stonewall is still an institution, its neighborhood, city, state, and country have changed significantly since 1969.
Fifty-two years later, the month of the Stonewall riots dedicated to LGBTQIA+ Pride. As Charles M. Blow writes, June is now “a month in which people in the community affirm their identities, celebrate their culture, demonstrate their solidarity and assert their humanity.”
This June, we commemorate the impressive steps taken toward liberation and the leaders who brought—and continue to bring—us closer to a better future. We at the Woodhull Freedom Foundation know that achieving sexual freedom is essential to creating this future, and we’re dedicated to ensuring that everyone, including LGBTQIA+ folks, has access to comprehensive sex education, quality healthcare, pleasure, and community. We wish everyone a safe and happy Pride month.
Photo credit: Bryan R. Smith: Agence France-Presse: Getty Images