In 1960s New York City, the Stonewall Inn, a bar in Greenwich Village, was one of the few places gay people could socialize. It was a rare space where they could drink, dance, and just be themselves. The American Psychiatric Association still classified homosexuality as a mental disorder, and gay men and lesbian women received almost universal moral condemnation from mainstream religions. The act of homosexual sex, even in private homes, was punishable by a fine, 20 years in prison, or even a life sentence.
On June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, dragging patrons into the street in handcuffs. Members of the gay community fought back, sparking protests that lasted for the next six days. The Stonewall riots, as they came to be known, are largely recognized as the beginning of the gay civil rights movement in the United States. The riots and the events that followed created a sense of urgency – the time had come to fight for change.
The Stonewall riots helped set in a motion a change in perception of LGBTQ identities. Within two years of the riots there were gay rights groups in every major American city, and the 1970s brought many successes in the fight for equality. Public opinion on gay rights has changed dramatically year after year. In 1996, only 27 percent of the public favored legalization of gay marriage. This year, public opinion polls put the approval number nationally at over 50 percent (npr.org), and gay marriage is legal in 37 states. Although there are still obstacles to overcome, Stonewall’s legacy has had a major impact on equal rights in America.
Through eyewitness accounts and rare archival material, Stonewall Uprising explores the issues, laws, and the prevailing anti-gay climate that inspired an uprising which ultimately drove the fight for gay equal rights onto the national stage. Join us in a celebration of equality and Stonewall’s legacy!
The film will screen as part of our First Thursday Arts Walk Film Series at 6:00 pm and at 7:45 pm. Admission is free, but seating is limited. Contact the Center to reserve your spot today: email@example.com, (951) 222-8846.
The Arts Walk film series continues on July 2nd with The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo.
This post was contributed by volunteer Danielle Sanchez.