June 28th 1969, New York City.
The early morning saw the raid on an establishment known to permit LGBTQ patrons, Stonewall Inn. The raids were common... what happened that night wasn't. The riot had begun and the following demonstrations wouldn't die down for days.
Those violent days and nights served as a catalyst for the LGBTQ movement. A catalyst for change.
The Inn was admittedly what I think you kids would call shady. Like many places who let us in, the elements running the establishment had a distinct disregard for the law. It was about profit to them... it was about risk and hope to us. Hope of finding someone like us in a world where we were called monsters. Hope of a break in the isolation of hiding. Hope of finding a warm body with similar tastes to share the night with. The risk though... the risk...
Raids were common. The aftermath could cost a person everything. It was my greatest fear to be the next poor schmuck publicly shamed with their picture in the paper after a raid. Those people... they lost their families, their friends, their jobs. Their lives as they knew them. I never expected a raid to be the beginning of my freedom.
I wasn't paying much attention when it started. Frankly, it was after 3am and I was well and truly drunk. The sounds of a raid had me bolting towards the door despite that. As the employees were arrested for serving liquor without a license the crowd watched. Then something changed as they carted off a few drag queens and a lesbian. The watching crowd turned. Then there were jeers, shouts, and violence. It was like nothing else I'd ever seen. Silence and fear had been the way of life for so long, it took a few seconds too long for me to process. I took an elbow to the face as the man next to me surged forward towards the police throwing a bottle. Then I became part of the monster the crowd had become. Ironic really. We had been called monsters for so long, it wasn't until that night that we bared our teeth and howled our fury.
I'm amazed and awed that in my lifetime I have seen the opinion of the public change so drastically. People. We are recognized as people these days. With equal rights to boot! I mean we can even openly serve in the army. I never thought I'd see the day those dreams become reality.
All I ask you, is to remember Stonewall. Remember how it began before rainbows were everywhere and pride meant something different. Before it became a movement, or we had an acronyms and societies to represent us. Back when "the closet" wasn't really a choice, rather more of a necessity. Remember all that the previous generation did for you, all they gave and fought for. All they helped achieve. Remember that you are part of a community that stretches beyond those revolutionary times. Remember that no matter what someone may say about you, that you are not alone.
Story and profile by: Dot