Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome back! Before we continue, if you’re a $5+ Patron, you can see a list of what I hope to have uploaded by the end of this month! I realized that I had a list, but no plans of which day and there’s only a couple weeks left so I’m doing this to hold myself accountable! Let’s get to today’s post.
Today, we will be discussing the Stonewall Riots. The spark happened on the morning of June 28 1969, when police raided Stonewall Inn. Raids on gay bars were routine in this period, but this one came as a surprise, because they hadn’t been tipped off by police like they usually were. Armed with a warrant, police officers entered the club, roughed up patrons, and, finding bootlegged alcohol, arrested 13 people, including employees and people violating the state’s gender-appropriate clothing statute (female officers would take suspected cross-dressing patrons into the bathroom to check their sex). Fed up with constant police harassment and social discrimination, angry patrons and neighborhood residents hung around outside of the bar rather than disperse, becoming increasingly agitated as the events unfolded and people were aggressively manhandled. At one point, an officer hit a lesbian woman over the head as he forced her into the paddy wagon — she shouted to onlookers to act, inciting the crowd to begin throw pennies, bottles, cobble stones, and other objects at the police. (Conflicting sources say that this woman was Stormé DeLarverie.)
I want to be clear here that there’s a lot of debate out there about who REALLY started the whole thing. Some say it was DeLarverie. Some say it was the street queens who started it. Regardless, I don’t think you can really pinpoint ONE person, especially with something like this – riots are nearly never started by one person. They’re started by several people or when the whole crowd reaches a breaking point. Back to the story.
Within minutes, a full-blown riot involving hundreds of people began. The police, a few prisoners, and a Village Voice writer barricaded themselves in the bar, which the mob attempted to set on fire after breaching the barricade repeatedly. The fire department and a riot squad were eventually able to douse the flames, rescue those inside Stonewall, and disperse the crowd. But the protests, sometimes involving thousands of people, continued in the area for five more days, flaring up at one point after the Village Voice published its account of the riots. Though the Stonewall uprising didn’t start the gay rights movement, it was a galvanizing force for queer political activism, leading to numerous gay rights organizations, including the Gay Liberation Front, Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD (formerly Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), and PFLAG (formerly Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).
Two other major players in the riots were Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. They co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a group that worked with homeless drag queens and transgender women of color in New York City. I think at a later date (probably not during Pride month), I will make a full video about Johnson and maybe Rivera too. In 2016, President Barack Obama designated the site of the riots—Stonewall Inn, Christopher Park, and the surrounding streets and sidewalks—a national monument in recognition of the area’s contribution to queer and human rights.
I am aware of the film, and I haven’t seen it – but from what I’ve seen online, the film is summarily awful. It erases all the trans people and PoC who were involved in the riots. The lead character is a white boy from white bread America, and the film portrays him as the one who threw the first brick. Sure, there were people like him in the movement, but the film is not historically accurate. I’m done for today. There is SO much out there about this, and I will put six links at the end of this post. I drew from some of them for this post. Some of them are more in-depth about the major players – DeLarverie, Johnson, and Rivera – and some are more in-detail about parts of the riots. One of them is an article from a person who was there at the riots, and what he thought of the film. I hope you learned something from this post! If you want to support my content, I have Patreon and ko-fi. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.
Thoughts on movie: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/art/stonewall-movie/
Marsha P. Johnson/Sylvia Rivera: http://bit.ly/2rJruvE
Stormé DeLarverie: http://bit.ly/2rszMsD