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THE NIGHT BETWEEN 27 AND 28 JUNE 1969...


The Stonewall riots, also known as the Stonewall uprising, Stonewall rebellion, or simply Stonewall, were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. Although the demonstrations were not the first instance in American history when people in the homosexual community fought back against a government-sponsored system that persecuted sexual minorities, they have become the defining event that marked the start of the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.
American gays and lesbians in the 1950s and 1960s faced a legal system more anti-homosexual than those of some Warsaw Pact countries. Early homophile groups in the U.S. sought to prove that gay people could be assimilated into society, and they favored non-confrontational education for homosexuals and heterosexuals alike. The last years of the 1960s, however, were very contentious, as many social movements were active, including the African American Civil Rights Movement, the Counterculture of the 1960s, and antiwar demonstrations. These influences, along with the liberal environment of Greenwich Village, served as catalysts for the Stonewall riots.
Very few establishments welcomed openly gay people in the 1950s and 1960s. Those that did were often bars, although bar owners and managers were rarely gay. The Stonewall Inn was owned by the Mafia. It catered to an assortment of patrons, but it was known to be popular with the poorest and most marginalized people in the gay community: drag queens, representatives of a newly self-aware transgender community, effeminate young men, hustlers, and homeless youth. Police raids on gay bars were routine in the 1960s, but officers quickly lost control of the situation at the Stonewall Inn and attracted a crowd that was incited to riot. Tensions between New York City police and gay residents of Greenwich Village erupted into more protests the next evening and again several nights later. Within weeks, Village residents quickly organized into activist groups to concentrate efforts on establishing places for gays and lesbians to be open about their sexual orientation without fear of being arrested.


Following the Stonewall riots, sexual minorities in New York City faced gender, class, and generational obstacles to becoming a cohesive community. In the weeks and months after, they initiated politically active social organizations and launched publications that spoke openly about rights for gay people. The first anniversary of the riots was marked by peaceful demonstrations in several American cities that have since grown to become Gay Pride marches. The Stonewall National Monument was established at the site in 2016. Today, Gay Pride events are held annually throughout the world toward the end of June to mark the Stonewall riots.

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