By: Felix Howton
Although support levels for LGBTQ+ individuals in the contemporary age have reached an all-time high, same-sex relations were only decriminalized twenty years ago through the Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court case, and gay marriage was only legalized in 2015. The Gay Rights Movement catalyzed this potent shift for LGBTQ+ people, yet many remain unaware of this foundational movement’s phenomenal origins: the Stonewall Riots. In the 1960s, society not only deprived queer people of acceptance and visibility within their communities but also prohibited being gay by law. Because of this, gay bars such as the Stonewall Inn became increasingly popular, providing gay people with the rare opportunity to exist in their identities and as their authentic selves.
However, raids by police frequently plagued these bars and resulted in widespread abuse. On June 28th, 1969, after a particular raid in which law enforcement officers violently arrested a number of the establishment’s patrons, a crowd formed outside the Stonewall Inn, dawning on the influential recognition that they had had enough. The riot that ensued enveloped hundreds of people as the gay community of New York City mobilized decisively against the daily abuse they endured. These “Stonewall Riots” served as a galvanizing force behind the gay rights movement; in fact, today’s Pride Month occurs in June to honor the Stonewall Uprising’s amazing legacy.