Stonewall riots The birthplace of the Gay Rights movement in the United States can be traced back to New York City in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969. On that day, the NYPD raided a bar in Greenwich Village called the Stonewall Inn. The Stonewall Inn was considered a refuge for many gays, lesbians and others who were not yet “out”. In the 1960’s homosexuality was considered illegal. The police would often harass and arrest individuals for homosexual conduct, and they would raid bars that catered to gay and lesbian individuals.

Stonewall riots

The birthplace of the Gay Rights movement in the United States can be traced back to New York City in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969. On that day, the NYPD raided a bar in Greenwich Village called the Stonewall Inn.

The Stonewall Inn was considered a refuge for many gays, lesbians and others who were not yet “out”. In the 1960’s homosexuality was considered illegal. The police would often harass and arrest individuals for homosexual conduct, and they would raid bars that catered to gay and lesbian individuals.

The police were also corrupt. Many bars and business that conducted illegal activity would “pay off” the police in order to continue operating. If they failed to make their payment, the police would raid the establishment and arrest the patrons.

On June 28, 1969, the owners of the Stonewall Inn, Mafia members themselves, failed to make their payment and they were raided by the NYPD.

In a spontaneous demonstration of defiance, the patrons began rioting against the police. The Stonewall Uprising lasted for six days, thus giving rise to the Gay Rights movement in the United States.

Over the decades that would follow, police departments have recognized the importance of diversity and inclusion in their organizations. Many efforts are conducted to recruit more women, minorities and members of the LGBTQ communities. In 2017, the NYPD demonstrated its ongoing outreach to the LGBTQ community by sponsoring a police car in the Pride Parade painted in the rainbow colors.

Watch the C-SPAN video interview with Professor Claire Potter from the New School in New York City.

https://www.c-span.org/video/?456730-9/1969-stonewall-riots

Then answer the questions:

1. What were the Stonewall Riots?

2. What did Claire Potter mean that “the police did not get their payoff”?

3. Can you draw any parallels between the Stonewall Riots as a movement and the protests that are occurring today?

4. How is the Stonewall Riots a marker for the Gay Rights period?

5. What were the challenges of “coming out”?

6. What is the significance of the Stonewall Inn today?

8. What is outhistory.org?

9. Consider the arc of gay history over the last fifty years. List two changes that Claire Potter mentioned about that arc of history.

10. How would you compare the relationship of the LGBT community during the Stonewall era with the relationship of today?