I wanted to write something today to commemorate the events of 28th June 1969 and the lasting impact that they had.
It was on this date, in the early hours of the morning, that the Stonewall riots which played a huge part in igniting the gay liberation movement and the fight for LGBT+ rights began.
These demonstrations by members of the gay community started in response to a violent police raid at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York. Customers who were gathered there, and in other local gay and lesbian bars fought back when the police became violent, and further protests occurred the following night and throughout the following week.
In the sixties in most of America, the legal-system was anti-gay and and gay people were shunned by many in society, with very few venues making them feel welcome. Gay people were regularly harrassed by police and it was common for police to raid gay establishments simply to destroy LGBTQ-friendly spaces.
The Stonewall riots drew a line in the sand; the community had had enough of being mistreated and made to feel like second-class citizens, and a movement began to create safe spaces for gay men and women, where they could be open about their sexuality without fear of recrimination.
In the months that followed, two gay activist organizations were formed in New York and three newspapers were established to promote gay rights.
A year after the uprising, on June 28, 1970, the first gay Pride marches took place across America to mark the anniversary of the riots, and within a few years, gay rights organizations had been founded all over the world.
On June 6, 2019, the New York City Police Commissioner made a formal apology on behalf of the New York Police Department for the actions of its officers at Stonewall in 1969. Today, Pride events are held annually throughout the world to mark the Stonewall riots and the impact they had on the fight for LGBT+ rights, and in 2016, the Stonewall National Monument was erected at the site.
On this day, I’m reflecting on the courage of the Stonewall protesters all those years ago, for standing up for their rights and for refusing to accept the mistreatment of the LGBT+ community. It takes incredible courage to stand up to a society who is rejecting you and abusing you just because of who you are and who you love.
Having the courage to be who you truly are is the greatest triumph of life. To all of my LGBT+ brothers, sisters and non-binary family, you are a gift to the world, and I stand with you today and every day. #Pride #LoveIsLove