Pride season of 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that lit the fuse for nationwide LGBT uprisings across the country.  


The 1960s was a different time indeed; during of which there was much hostility and discrimination for the LGBT community.  Solicitation of same-sex relations was illegal in many cities, including New York City. Dressing in the manner of the opposite “sex” was also illegal as well.  Even dancing was illegal.  Due to the public and societal restrictions, many within the LGBT community would flock to gay bars and clubs.  These bars/clubs served as refuge and an escape.  One of the most prominent clubs was the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village.  


Stonewall Inn was a place, run and operated by a prominent Mafia family in New York, where the LGBT community could come and be free.  It attracted homeless youth, many closeted members of the community, drag queens, cross dressers, transsexuals, and gender-variant people often not allowed or tolerated in many other gay clubs.  It was also one of the only places in New York that allowed dancing. 


Early in the morning on June 28, 1969, Stonewall Inn was raided.  While this wasn’t the first time, this time they were not given a heads up. With a warrant intact, police arrested 13 people; including staff and people violating New York state’s gender-appropriate clothing statute (where it was illegal for people to wear clothing deemed for the opposite “sex”.). Female officers would take transgender and cross-dressing patrons into the bathroom to check their “sex”.  Patrons and neighborhood residents gathered around the bar; outraged at the blatant discrimination.  The situation escalated when a lesbian was assaulted while she was being rounded up. She turned and shouted to the growing crowd to react-inciting them to throw pennies, rocks, bottles, etc. at the police.  Within minutes, a full blown riot had erupted.  

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While this wasn’t the first-time members of the LGBT community have clashed with police (previous times included the Black Cat Tavern in Los Angeles, and Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco), this Stonewall Riot galvanized LGBT people across the nation to come together in what started the LGBT revolution.  


Fast forward 50 years. 


While the world erupted in rainbows and celebrating Queer and LGBT Pride, let’s look at the how far we’ve come.  



In the 50 years since the Stonewall Riots, June has officially been anointed and marked as “LGBT Pride” month.  


Since Stonewall, the LGBT community has won landmark victories.  LGBT people can now marry (and have their marriage and rights afforded to married people), adopt children, and have protection against workplace discrimination. 


The LGBT community is considered one of the top five social groups in terms of spending power, with spending topping $4 billion a year.  With shows like “Pose”, “RuPaul’s Drag Race”, “Will & Grace”, and “The L Word”, queer representation has grown to an all-time high.  Big brands and corporations across the world have more queer representation.  


Yet, as far as we’ve come, we’ve had just as man, if not more setbacks.  


Trans women were at the forefront of the Stonewall Riots and have been in establishing the foundation of the LGBT revolution, and yet, never truly got their true respect, even to this day. Founding mothers Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera’s legacies both ended tragically; with Rivera dying homeless, and Johnson being murdered in a still unsolved homicide.  Just last month, six black trans women were murdered just during the Pride month of June alone, and yet, there was hardly any of the outcry or rioting that trans women themselves had done for the community. Those murders largely went flying under the radar, with the LGBT community at large choosing to highlight rainbow celebrations.  


The Trump administration has started the ball in rolling back trans rights, with working on creating a ban on trans people serving in the military and even the removal of the trans identity as a recognized sex and gender (one that has already been confirmed by science time and time again.)  With all of this, the greater LGBT community still has not gotten behind their trans sisters and brothers; leaving them to mostly have to fight these increasingly tough battles by themselves.  

Even as we’ve gained exposure and visibility, it still isn’t fully representative of the many intersectional identities within the LGBT community.  The face of the LGBT community is still very much white, male, and cisgender.  Within the LGBT representation in the media, queer people are still being represented in a vacuum; only doing and being associated with “queer”-based activities and stereotypical tropes.  


We have also given access to our rainbows, our dollars, and our community base, to any company willing to pay.  These companies care nothing about moving and progressing the LGBT community forward, and only about their bottom line, their profits, and the buying power the LGBT community possess.  Companies (such as Walmart, for example) will pay to have their brand visible JUST during Pride month, but still contribute to anti-LGBT legislation and political candidates and don’t practice diversity within their company.  And the sad thing is they are still allowed to participate within our Pride celebrations.  


While Pride month has officially ended, it’s interesting to see how, instantly, the visibility of rainbows and celebration of queer love and pride have almost shut down over night, while the problems within our community have persisted.  


We have to do better. Pride isn’t a party.  While, yes, it is a celebration of queer life and life, it should also be a renewed call-to-action; for the rioting and revolutions should and are far from over.  


We are still in the fight for our true liberation and freedom; 50 years later.