Fifty years ago, nine New York police officers stormed the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street and began aggressively searching the bar’s patrons. They demanded identification and arrested anyone they suspected of being gay or dressed in a way that didn’t conform to mainstream society’s narrow understanding of gender.
The events that followed would spark the modern LGBTI rights movement, inspiring the first LGBTI Pride parade down Christopher Street.
In 1969, it was still illegal to be gay in most parts of the US. For many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, nights out at places like the Stonewall Inn were the only times where they could openly be themselves. The venue was known for its celebration of inclusion and also became a safe space for sex workers and the homeless.
In the early hours of 28 June 1969, as police started harassing everyone in the bar and dragging them into the backs of squad cars, the Stonewall patrons didn’t just protest a police raid on a bar: They were protecting their home.
How did the Stonewall Riots start?