Guest blog post from Cori DePue
When lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans folk took to the streets of New York City in the early hours of June 28, 1969, it was not a parade. It was a political action. A group of gay customers at a bar in Greenwich Village, who had grown angry by insistent harassment from local police forces, took a stand. A riot arose in the streets as police reinforcements arrived on the scene and brutally beat the crowd away. The next night the crowd returned, even larger and more aggressive than the night before. For hours and days afterward, the protestors continued to fight, and demonstrations of varying intensity took place throughout the city. However, in the end, the queer community declared victory.
Violence was something that the queer community had to learned to live with, even in New York City, where a certain degree of freedom existed- in comparison to the rest of the nation. The Stonewall Uprising is often sited as the origin for the contemporary LGBTQ movement. While the riots did not affect current laws or policies regarding homosexuality, it certainly changed the gay psyche and brought the equality issues of the LGBTQ community out of the shadows and into the public light.
Because of these historical riots, the month of June is nationally declared LGBT Pride Month, and we celebrate this sense of pride by attending, volunteering, and supporting Pride festivals, parades, and marches that occur throughout the nation. These events are an expression of individualism and freedom, a call for equality, and they serve as a reminder that although it may seem that Stonewall was “yesterday”, the struggle still remains. Why does this all matter though? Why is gay pride still relevant?