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Monthly Promotional Guide: LGBTQ+ Pride Month

Stonewall Uprising and LGBTQ+ Activism

The Stonewall Riots were a series of spontaneous demonstrations by members of the LGBTQ community against a discriminatory police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. The riots lasted five nights and served as a galvanizing moment for the LGBTQ activist community to unite in a nationwide movement fighting for LGBTQ rights. The following year of action culminated on the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in the Christopher Street Liberation Day March, an organized march considered to be the first Pride.

The Stonewall Riots were commemorated with the designation of Stonewall National Monument in 2016, the first National Monument dedicated to LGBTQ rights and history.

(source: "What are the Stonewall Riots?" https://stonewallforever.org/faq/ accessed 25 May 2019)

Was a brick thrown, or a cobblestone, or rocks? Was the atmosphere on the street fun and festive, or grave and violent? Were patrons of Stonewall that night grieving Judy Garland’s death? No one could come to consensus on these or many other questions.

In a sense, I was comforted by the disagreements of past generations of L.G.B.T.Q. people. While shooting the video, more than once I found myself thinking, “See? Millennials didn’t invent queer infighting!”

But I also began to see these disagreements as fundamental to my history. When I interviewed Mark Segal, who was present for several nights of the protests at Stonewall and who was an early member of the Gay Liberation Front, he described the G.L.F. as both “the most dysfunctional organization that has ever existed in the L.G.B.T. community” and “literally why we have everything that we have today.”

Indeed, the G.L.F., which was the first queer activist organization formed after Stonewall, argued about everything — its structure, its purpose, its leadership, its mission, and on and on. My favorite anecdote was a disagreement about whether men’s beards posed a masculine insult to women.

But the G.L.F. also set the stage for one of the most successful civil rights movements in the United States. Within a year of Stonewall, the G.L.F. organized three simultaneous gay pride marches in three cities — before the concept of a “gay pride parade” even existed. Then they went on to create the first L.G.B.T.Q. community center and the first organization for gay youth and, from what I was told, they never once stopped arguing.

(source: "Who Threw the First Brick at Stonewall? Let's Argue About It" https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/31/us/first-brick-at-stonewall-lgbtq.html accessed 4 June 2019)

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50 Years of Pride

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