At the time, the Stonewall riot in New York was a landmark event for the New York gay community.
Even today, not everyone makes the connection between the many Pride marches around the world and this violent event that has led to the creation of various organizations to defend and to promote the rights of gays and lesbians.
It is a beautiful summer evening. Precisely, the 28th of June, 1969. That night, as was often the case at the Stonewall Inn, guests are enjoying a drink, having a chat, laughing, dancing … Among them are gays, lesbian, transgenders and other marginalized people coexisting for a variety of reasons. This place is one of the few to be known and recognized for welcoming a kind of clientele often shunned by other establishments.
In Greenwich Village, a place of pleasure, police raids are common, but most often, announced a little in advance. Customers and owners are used to it. However, that night, undercover police officers undertake a raid unexpectedly and at an unusual time. This turns out to be a bad idea for them because this time they hit a wall. Gays, lesbian, trans, drag queens, bisexuals, and street citizens choose to stand up and defend themselves. Refusal to obey, yelling, fights, and … riot.
If the Stonewall riot has become such a legend, it is certainly not for its degree of violence; all riots are violent by definition. No. This is because of the line that was drawn during the night of June 28 to June 29, 1969. It is also because these people, who raised their shield very high, have made it possible to generate gains from which we still benefit today.
If winning a war requires winning several battles, it must be admitted that the one at Stonewall served to whip the troops and stimulate the desire for defense and promotion of gay, lesbian and trans people. And there have been many battles won between Stonewall and today. However, members of the LGBTQ + community are still being singled out. Violence and misunderstanding towards gay, lesbian, and trans people last and, unfortunately, go on through the ages. As proof, this sad and pathetic example that occurred a few days ago in a bar in the Charlevoix region.
Certainly, the second millennium is loaded with heavy bureaucracy and social networks. And the messages of love and hate abound in an ultra-polarized atmosphere. In the midst of all these words one can raise the question: what is left of the drastic activism that made it possible to move things forward during the 1960s and 1970s?
It has often been said that one of the first people to start the Stonewall riot was Sylvia Rivera, a marginal activist born into a very poor family. All of her life, she had campaigned for LGBT rights. Deceased in 2002, a street now bears her name in New York. And what do the next generations remember of it? It is important to ask the question in order to avoid stagnation and to determine how it is possible today to counteract discrimination, to educate intelligently, and to promote freedom of choice in all that it entails. .
“After the Stonewall riots, gay men and lesbians in New York City faced gender, race, class, and generational obstacles to becoming a cohesive community. Within six months, two gay activist organizations were formed in New York, concentrating on confrontational tactics, and three newspapers were established to promote rights for gay men and lesbians. Within a few years, gay rights organizations were founded across the U.S. and the world. On June 28, 1970, the first Gay Pride took place in New York and Los Angeles to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Similar marches were organized in other cities and today, LGBT Pride events are held annually throughout the world toward the end of June to mark the Stonewall riots.”, as read on the riot’s Wiki page.
Of course Stonewall was the starting point for something big and constructive. Indeed, many things have been acquired in the last 50 years. But…let’s be honest: there are still many battles to be won.