June 1969, New York City. It is illegal for gay people to kiss, hold hands or even dance with a same-sex partner in public. Police frequently raid gay bars and clubs in the city, where they arrest any LGBT people doing anything illegal — which, at the time, includes wearing less than three pieces of “gender-conforming clothes”.
Stonewall Inn is one of the most popular gay bars in the city. It is a haven for drag queens and homeless youth who are shunned elsewhere.
That morning, almost 50 years ago exactly, the police raid again. This time, the patrons fight back.
So began the Stonewall riots, kickstarting the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.
Half a century later, June is recognised as LGBT Pride Month as a tribute to Stonewall. Every summer, Pride marches take place in hundreds of cities across the globe: up to one million people are thought to have watched London’s Pride parade last year.
In countries like the UK, where LGBT rights are accepted, Pride events have largely become a time of joy and celebration. But they are also a chance to campaign for the rights of LGBT people in other countries, or to protest against discrimination still faced at home.
What are you proud of this June?
Read Our Stories
‘Android’ Janelle Monáe comes out as pansexual
Do labels matter? For years, singer Janelle Monáe insisted that she “only dates androids”. Now, in an interview with Rolling Stone, she has said that she is pansexual....
Hannah, 18: ‘Hey, I’m trans, and that’s okay’
How does it feel to be a transgender teenager? YouTuber and trans activist Hannah talks to The Day about coming out, the media, and changing her...
How LGBT icon Edie Windsor changed America
Is history made by sudden changes, or “countless small acts of persistence”? For Barack Obama, it is the latter — and Edith “Edie” Windsor, who died on Tuesday, was the perfect example.
A video on the history of Pride and the Stonewall riots.
- As a class, discuss the meaning of the word “pride”. What does it mean? How important is it to our identity and behaviour? And what sorts of things are you proud of?
- Research the history of UK Pride and make a timeline of important marches and events.
- Imagine you were present at the Stonewall riots in New York City, 50 years ago. Write a short story or diary entry about your experience that day.