The International LGBTIQ+ Pride Day is celebrated on June 28 due to the commemoration of the Stonewall riots (New York, USA) that occurred in 1969, which marked the beginning of the homosexual liberation movement.
The riots consisted of a series of spontaneous and violent demonstrations that arose in protest against a police raid that took place in the early hours of June 28 at the Stonewall Inn pub, located in the New York neighborhood of Greenwich Village. The LGBT community came together on that occasion to fight against a system that persecuted non-normative people (LGBT, racialized people…). Likewise, they sought to demonstrate that homosexual people were part of society, and fostered a non-confrontational culture between homosexuals and heterosexuals.
In the 1960s, few places openly welcomed gay people. Among these was the Stonewall, which was owned by the mob. This pub catered to a wide variety of patrons, but was popular for its regulars including gays, transsexuals, drag queens, effeminate men, male prostitutes and homeless youth.
Raids on pubs like the Stonewall were common at the time. What made the difference was that, unexpectedly, the police lost control of the situation and the clients and others who approached the place rebelled.
About 200 clients were expelled to the street. A crowd turned on the officers who sheltered inside for safety. Homosexuals were used to running from the police, but this time they were the ones on the offensive and the cops on the run.
As a result of this brawl that lasted until the wee hours of the morning, four agents ended up injured and thirty people were admitted to the cells of the Sixth District police station, of which seven were Stonewall employees. The detainees had charges ranging from persecution for resisting arrest to disobedience.
The tension between the police and the gay residents of Greenwich Village lasted for several days. And in a matter of weeks, the collective organized to have places where homosexuals could be freely without fear of being arrested.
The first marches to commemorate the Stonewall protests and struggles took place in 1970 in New York and Los Angeles. After this first step, many cities joined these marches around the world, which since then host the Gay Pride parades to claim their rights.
After that first Gay Pride parade, progress accelerated.
In the following decade, federal bans on gays and lesbians were lifted, and the medical profession reversed its belief that homosexuals needed psychiatric treatment.
In 1977, Harvey Milk became one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States in San Francisco. Two years later, some 100,000 people participated in a national march on Washington. Probably, at the time, this was the largest congregation of homosexuals in history.
Many of the laws against sodomy were removed in the 1980s, effectively making homosexuality legal.
Today there are thousands of Gay Pride events around the world, but their beginnings were humble.
Liberation Day on Christopher Street, exactly one year after Stonewall, began in Greenwich Village and ran 51 blocks down Sixth Avenue to Central Park. As reported then, between 3,000 and 15,000 people participated.
The most exciting thing was the number of people who joined along the route. The central message was ‘We are here. We’re weird, get used to it.
At the time of the uprising, consensual sexual relations between men or women were illegal in all US states except Illinois.
Gay people could not work for the federal government or the military, and if they came out they were denied licenses to practice many professions, such as law or medicine.
Laws in New York state were particularly punitive despite the fact that increasing numbers of gay men and women from across the country were moving to New York City.
Thousands of people were arrested each year in that city for “crimes against nature”, prostitution or lewd behavior.
Some ended up with their names published in newspapers, which meant losing their jobs.
Once the laws that criminalized homosexual practices in a large part of the world have been overcome, decriminalization is currently being demanded in the rest of the countries, along with other matters in which discrimination against the group persists, such as the fight for the legalization of homosexual marriage or the establishment of homoparental families (adoption of children by homosexuals), respect for the sexual identity of transsexual people and their rights (legal change of sex and name, hormonal or surgical treatments, etc.), in addition to denouncing LGTBphobia (lesbophobia, homophobia, transphobia and biphobia) still exists.
History and collective memory was fair to the Stonewall riots. It is not only considered that it was the first historical moment in which the American LGTBI community fought against the system that oppressed it, but from this collective mobilization what is known today as the modern movement that goes in favor of the rights of the LGTBIQ+ community worldwide.
Over time, the Stonewall Inn pub became a landmark within the movement. To such an extent that the then president of the United States, Barack Obama, made it a national monument in 2016. The pub, located next to Christopher Park, thus becomes the first national monument in the US that recalls the history of the struggle for the rights of this collective.
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