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Stonewall Inn, West Village | by InSapphoWeTrust
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Stonewall Inn, West Village

Stonewall Inn is now a National Historical Landmark.


On 27 June 1969, at this gay men's bar, a police raid took place; in the 1960s, police raids on gay bars were frequent, and homosexuality was widely considered to be a sign of moral decrepitude (or in the days of McCarthyism, a sign of Communist corruption). The patrons fought back, determined to stand their ground. The riots continued for days.


The gay rights movement of the 1950s and the 1960s were generally led by homophiles, who wanted to demonstrate that gays were capable of functioning morally and normally in society, but between the civil rights struggles earlier in the 1960s and a changing of the social tides, the movement became much more activist as a result of the Stonewall Riots. By the late 1970s, gay rights movement would start to have mainstream legitimacy, and despite the setback of the AIDS epidemic and Reagan-era conservatism, would make huge gains from the 1990s on. The LGBT movement made even more dramatic gains in some other parts of the world, notably Western Europe.


Some in the transgender community like to point out that the most fierce protesters at Stonewall (who also were the most despised by the society) were drag queens and transwomen, whom the rest of the society treated as hyper-feminine gay men. They also like to point out that Stonewall Riots were one of many occasions where a transgender-led struggle for justice was appropriated by the gays, and the transgenders were left behind.


Fast forward to 2011: the United States military ended its "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and allows openly gay people to serve, and New York State's marriages are gender-neutral and open to same-sex couples. The LGBT community did make huge progress over the decades. However, there is still a lot more work to be done, as another "gay-friendly" state, California, had re-banned legalized gay marriages in 2008 via a ballot measure heavily supported by religious and foreign funds, and it remains legal to discriminate against people in housing and employment based on real or perceived sexual orientation in half of the US states, and on real or perceived gender identity (transgender status) in over 35 states. And overseas, some countries, especially those in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, continue to crack down ever harder on their LGBT populations.

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Taken on October 31, 2011