Sunday, June 28, 2009

Never Forget...

We should never forget why we celebrate on the last Sunday of every June. From Wikipedia:

On Saturday morning, June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar in Greenwich Village where gay people frequently gathered to socialize on Christopher Street, just off Sheridan Square. A number of factors differentiated the raid that took place on June 28 from other raids at the Stonewall Inn. Because raids had occurred at the Stonewall Inn in the past, managers usually knew what to expect when a raid was about to occur. Likewise, raids tended to occur earlier in the evening, which allowed the bar to continue with normal business for the busiest hours of the night.

On June 28th, however, an unexpected raid unfolded at the Inn. At approximately 1:20 am, eight police officers entered the bar with a warrant authorizing a search for illegal sales of alcohol. Of the eight policemen, only one was dressed in his uniform. The police questioned the customers and made many of them show identification. Many were escorted out of the bar, and some were even arrested. The escorted crowd became very angry and began to cause chaos outside of the Inn. While the police loaded arrested patrons into the police van, the existing crowd responded with catcalls and then, eventually erupted into violence. Transgender activist Sylvia Rivera claimed she "led the charge". They threw bottles at the officers, and even used a parking meter as a battering ram. The crowd’s attacks were unrelenting. Word quickly spread of the riot and many residents, as well as patrons of nearby bars, rushed to the scene. When the police officers went inside the bar, the angry clients blockaded the Inn and then torched it.


Eventually, the protesting crowd was so strong that each time the police would disperse the mob, a new group would re-form behind the police’s back, preventing them from actually breaking up the riot. Over the course of five days, the crowd of 400 protesters continued throwing bottles and lighting fires around the Inn. Police attempted to capture some of the violent rioters. If the rioters did not act fast enough, they were pushed and shoved and even clubbed to the ground by officers. Protesters in the crowd began to scream "Gay Power" and some activists dressed as drag queens started chanting:

We are the Stonewall Girls
We wear our hair in curls
We wear no underwear
We show our pubic hair
We wear our dungarees
Above our nelly knees

The police sent additional forces in the form of the Tactical Patrol Force, a riot-control squad originally trained to counter Vietnam War protesters. The tactical patrol force arrived to disperse the crowd. However, they failed to break up the crowd, who sprayed them with rocks and other projectiles.

Eventually the scene quieted, but the crowd returned again the next night. While less violent than the first night, the crowd had the same energy as it had on the previous night. Skirmishes between the rioters and the police ensued until approximately 4:00 a.m. The third day of rioting fell five days after the raid on the Stonewall Inn. On that Wednesday, 1,000 people congregated at the bar and again caused extensive property damage.


The following year, in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots, the newly formed Gay Liberation Front organized a march from Greenwich Village to Central Park. Between 5,000 and 10,000 men and women attended the march. Many gay pride celebrations choose the month of June to hold their parades and events to celebrate “The Hairpin Drop Heard Round the World".

So to Sylvia Rivera, the Stonewall ‘Girls’, the dykes and the fags who started the fight for my rights as a gay person – I thank you. And I will NEVER forget…


This is a re-posting (with updates) of my Gay Pride/Stonewall post from last year.

5 comments:

Beth said...

Thanks for posting this Tranny....I never really knew the whole story behind Stonewall.

Love you!
XOXOXOX

Beth said...

I recently read a writeup on Bob's blog, too, and found it really interesting. Like Other Beth, I didn't know the whole history. XOXO Beth

thegayte-keeper said...

I COULD NEVER FORGET THIS!!!

Kwana said...

Thanks for the heartfelt post David. I never read the whole story.

Mark in DE said...

Fabulous post, David!!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...