One of the exhibits created by students in the Creating Digital History course:
by Shannon Elliott
The Stonewall Inn, located in the heart of Greenwich Village, is the site of what many believe to be the turning point in the Gay Rights movement. The Stonewall Riots began in the early hours of June 28, 1969 and continued for several nights following. While police raids of gay bars were a fairly common practice at this time, that night the patrons fought back and as a result, changed the course of history. The courage and strength displayed by the men and women outside of the Stonewall Inn that night inspired the gay community to take action and to let their voices be heard.
Not long after the riots the Gay Rights movement began to take shape. Groups like the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance were formed and began to bring the gay community together through political action. These groups took their fight to the streets and captured the country’s attention with a movement that would only continue to gain momentum. The first Gay Pride parade was held a year later in June 1970 to commemorate the events of Stonewall.
The men and women who stood up against police harrassment at Stonewall that night sparked a revolution. Even at a time when few establishments welcomed openly gay people, homosexual sex was illegal in nearly every state, and there were no laws protecting gay me or women from losing their jobs if their sexuality was discovered, they fought back and defended their rights. While the journey is not over, the changes that have occurred throughout the country in support of gay rights in the last 43 years are a testament to the success of the Gay Rights movement that had precipitated from the riot. The legacy that the Stonewall Riots left is a powerful message; a legacy of acceptance, hope, and determination for the LGBT community.