The Stonewall Uprising was actually a series of spontaneous demonstrations by members of the LGBT community against a police raid that occurred during the early hours of June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, downtown Manhattan. The general consensus is that these demonstrations constituted the most important impetus to launch the gay liberation movement and the ongoing fight for LGBT rights in the US.
Prior to Stonewall, lesbian and gay Americans lived under an oppressive legal system that criminalized their love. Early activist groups, such as the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis, had formed in California, taking a non-confrontational approach that favored assimilation. However, the 1960s ushered in a number of social and political developments that brought together civil rights awareness, countercultural values, and the anti-Vietnam War movement – all of which served as catalysts for the Stonewall Uprising.
The Stonewall Inn catered to the poor and marginalized members of the LGBT community. Police raids on Stonewall and similar establishments were routine, but that night in June erupted into a riot and continued for several nights. Within weeks local residents organized into activist groups that focused on establishing safe places for gays and lesbians to be open about their sexual orientation. Within a few years gay rights organizations were established across the country and internationally. On June 28, 1970 the first gay pride marches were held in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In 2016 the US National Park Service established the area surrounding the bar as the Stonewall National Monument – the first-ever LGBT national park in the country. Last year on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, the New York City Police Commissioner issued a formal apology on behalf of NYPD for the actions of its officers in 1969.
KOOP honors the heroes of Stonewall in June and invites you to join us in celebrating this significant anniversary.