Posted by Tess Waggoner on June 28, 2019 in Blog

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the uprising that took place at the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in New York City. Commonly known as the Stonewall Riots, the events in late June 1969 are widely cited as the origin story of the civil rights movement for LGBTQ rights.

This year’s anniversary of the events at Stonewall Inn marks not only a critical milestone for the LGBTQ community; the commemoration also serves as an opportunity for allied civil rights organizations to reflect on how memorialization practices contribute to public understandings of collective action and social movements, and how our work can better reflect a shared commitment to uplifting and engaging all Americans, regardless of actual or perceived gender, sex, or sexual orientation.

Throughout the month of June across the city and in many places around the world, Pride Month celebrations are taking place—but not without contestation over what the events at Stonewall meant, or who can authentically claim the stories of those activists’ experiences.

According to our partners at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights,

“In the wake of the riots, intense discussions about civil rights were held among New York’s LGBT people, which led to the formation of various advocacy ….  On the 1st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the first gay pride parades in U.S. history took place in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and near the Stonewall Inn in New York. [The events at Stonewall] inspired LGBT people throughout the country to organize in support of gay rights, and within two years after the riots, gay rights groups had been started in nearly every major city in the United States.”

To this day the events at Stonewall are widely discussed and debated. The overwhelming impact and very real shifts in public conceptions that the Stonewall legacy has had on our collective culture are without question.

In remembering and honoring the legacies of those who engaged in civil disobedience at the Stonewall Inn fifty summers ago, we also acknowledge and decry the rash of fatal violence impacting trans women today- especially trans women of color. We are grateful to young trailblazers in the entertainment industry like Alia Shawkat and Josie Totah who live their intersecting, multi-scalar lives in the public eye, dispelling harmful stereotypes about culture, sexual orientation and gender identity in the process.