June 28, 2022

Stonewall Riots and Christopher Street Liberation Day -
The milestones to LGBTQ+ Civil Rights
On June 28 1969, the Stonewall Riots served as a catalyst for change on LGBTQ+ Civil Rights that begun in New York City and then expanded nationally and globally. Police raided the well-known bar in the Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood. Police arrested many of the rioters but the fight continued until early dawn. Over the next few days, activists continued to gather near the Stonewall in order to connect and build the community that would fuel the growth of the LGBTQ+ rights movement. Though police returned, the attitude was less confrontational. Change was on the way. Many activists remember vividly how inspired and united they felt by this tragic event that paved the way for social change. Many of them shared what the Stonewall Riots meant for them and how it shaped their lives.

Martin Boyce was one of them. He said:” …a perfect event in my life because it let me live the kinds of dreams I had of seeing an equitable society. I was able to live my life, which I would have done anyway, but without Stonewall I would have had more opposition. So it turns out the times were on my side, which left me with a basically happy life." Raymond Castro was also at the Stonewall when police raided the bar. He tried to help a friend but police kept pushing him back. Reflecting on the event, he stated: “…never ever gave it a thought of [Stonewall] being a turning point. All I know is enough was enough. You had to fight for your rights. And I'm happy to say whatever happened that night, I was part of it. Because [at a moment like that] you don't think, you just act." Danny Garvin was only 20 years old when the Stonewall Riots happened. The event left an indelible mark on him but it was not until later that he felt the impact of the night. He said, “Bars were still raided after Stonewall, so for me it didn't stand out. It wasn't until the 1980s that I learned there was a spark of interest in Stonewall. I think as we looked back we wanted to be able to point to something where it began, so they grabbed onto this so we could say, “This is where our history changed”.'"
Soon after 1969, activists continued working toward the larger goal of raising awareness and achieving change. Almost a year later, members of two organizations, the Homophile Youth Movement in Neighborhoods and the Lavender Menace, decided to commemorate the first annual Stonewall Riots anniversary with a March. On June 28, 1970, the first March, known as Christopher Street Liberation Day, took place in New York City. The March started small, with only few hundred people downtown in front of the Stonewall Inn; by the time it arrived at Central Park, thousands of people had joined. Participants of the March said it was 15 blocks long. The founder of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), Michael Brown, who was at the March. stated: “We have to come out into the open and stop being ashamed, or else people will go on treating us as freaks. This March is an affirmation and declaration of our new pride.” Later that same day, Los Angeles held a Christopher Street West celebration on Hollywood Boulevard and thousands of people joined to celebrate pride; two smaller scale Marches took place in San Francisco and Chicago.

Just over a half century after that first Christopher Street Liberation Day event on June 28, 1970, the annual New York City Pride March draws millions of participants and supporters of the LGBTQ+ community and is an inspiration for people around the world.

#DEIatCTI #stonewallriots #stonewall #pride #prideparade #lgbtq #equality #lovewins

Helpful Links:

Please watch:

Stonewall Veterans Talk About the Night That Changed The World - Stonewall: Profiles of Pride -  video length: 6 min

Out In Chicago: 1960s and 70s LGBT Radicalism - video length: 3min