Stonewall Rebellion Launches Gay Rights Movement (Great Events: 1900-2001)
Article abstract: Tired of police harassment and legal regulation of their dress and behavior, homosexual patrons at the Stonewall Inn fought back against a police raid. The event provoked a new assertiveness in gay activism, a stronger sense of gay identity, and an annual commemoration.
Overall conditions for homosexuals in 1969 undoubtedly contributed to the riot at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City, and its aftermath. No laws existed protecting the rights of homosexuals, who were portrayed negatively in the media, and sodomy (anal or oral intercourse by same-sex or heterosexual couples) was illegal in all but two states in the United States. Most homosexuals felt it was unwise—even unsafe—to lead an openly gay or lesbian life.
Another significant factor that led to the riot was the general atmosphere of unrest in society. Opposition to the Vietnam War had led to student revolts at Columbia University in April, 1968, and riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago that summer. Many homosexuals worked with Martin Luther King, Jr., fighting for civil rights, partly because they were still reluctant to fight openly for the rights of gays and lesbians.
Gay and lesbian rights efforts had existed before Stonewall, with riots similar to Stonewall occurring in other cities. Dozens of homosexual organizations had been established. The...
(The entire section is 1010 words.)
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