In the late 1960s, The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village served as one of a handful of places where members of the gay community could gather and embrace their whole selves. The Stonewall Inn welcomed New York City’s poorest and most marginalized of the LGBTQ2S population: butch lesbians, effeminate gay men, transgendered folks, drag queens, male prostitutes, homeless youth – anyone whose gender and sexual identities did not fit what was considered the “norm”.
At this time, sex between same-sex adults was still considered illegal in New York State (and would not be overturned until 1980). As such, establishments such as the Stonewall Inn were frequently subjected to police raids. Patrons were often violently removed, arrested for immorality, shamed and stigmatized.
But on June 28th, 1969, when the police stormed through the doors of the Stonewall Inn, the folks who had gathered that night collectively declared that enough was enough. They fought back.
In the nights that followed, Greenwich Village erupted in protests and violent clashes with police. Gay-rights activists led the charge, unified in their fervor to protect the rights, the dignity, and indeed the lives, of gender and sexuality non-conforming folks. What became known as the Stonewall Riots ignited community groups across the US to mobilize to demand changes to the legal and moral doctrine that outlawed homosexuality.
One year later, community activists in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco commemorated the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots with what has come to be recognized as the first Gay Pride Parades, and the official initiation of the Gay Pride Movement in North America.
For more information on the history of LGBTQ2S Pride in Canada, visit www.queerevents.ca/canada/pride/history