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Updated: Aug 21, 2021

In the 1900s, the LGBTQ+ community were frowned at, shunned and shamed for just being who they wanted to be. There were laws that prevented them from drinking and dressing how they wanted and even dating who they wanted. This caused many to feel trapped and oppressed and ashamed for being themselves.

In New York City, in 1966, the Mafia bought the bar locally known as the “Stonewall Inn”. They catered specifically for the discriminated gay community as they knew it could definitely make a profit and used this to their advantage. The inn then slowly gained the reputation of being the home for all LGBT people as this is where they finally felt welcome.

But due to the laws preventing this community from drinking and the fact that that the Inn had no liquor license, it had to work underground and pay off the local authorities to allow themselves to sell alcohol.

They did these by conducting fake raids and letting the barman know before they came to hide all the booze, so it looked legit.

However, on the night of 28th June 1969, over 200 customers and staff were raided without warning by 2 undercover officers and 2 officers in uniform. The officers arrested as many ‘queers’ as they could and asked everyone to line up and handover their IDs to see if how they looked matched their correct gender.

The community had just had enough at this point, The Stonewall Inn had acted as a refuge for them from a world which refused to accept their humanity, so some decided not to handover their ID. This stunt unfortunately led to the police becoming more violent and abusive to the crowd of people. The tension started to escalate quickly. The booze was confiscated, and more people were arrested.

The arrested had to stay inside of the Inn while the others were told to leave – they didn’t! They waited outside until the police came out so they could mock them by being as openly flamboyant as they could, whilst pushing against the cops and intimidating them.

This lead to the police forcibly pushing Stormé DeLarverie, a well-known activist at the time, into one of their ‘paddy wagons’. While all this is happening, more and more passer buys stop to watch in awe at what is happening. Calling out this newly formed crowd, Stormé asks, “Why don’t you guys do something?”

And so they did…

The LGBTQ+, other witnesses and the arrested, all fought back throwing rocks, bottles and bricks at the police, in protest for their home and their rights. The cops tried to defend themselves the best they could but with the ever-growing crowd, they were outnumbered. They quickly ran and barricaded themselves inside the inn.

Soon after, the Inn was set ablaze. No one knows who set it on fire and it wouldn’t make sense for either side to purposefully set the haven alight.

The uprising at the Stonewall Inn can’t be credited to just one person because it really was about the collective effort of the oppressed community and how everyone was willing to defend their home.

All these people, who were once ashamed for being themselves, finally had the chance to feel some PRIDE for who they really were.

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