ELITE DAILY -- Marc Stein, professor of history at San Francisco State University and author of Rethinking the Gay and Lesbian Movement, spoke to Elite Daily about the history of the Stonewall Riots, the origin of Pride Month, and the general emphasis on community solidarity and unity during the early Pride marches.
“Pride is generally celebrated in June to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which took place over the course of a week in late June and early July in 1969,” says Stein. At this time, it was illegal for LGBTQ+ people to get together and have a drink or dance with partners of the same sex. Because of this, most bars didn’t allow LGBTQ+ individuals into their establishments. They were afraid of police raids and hefty fines. The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, became a safe space for drag queens, queer and trans people, and others in the LGBTQ+ community.
“In November 1969, several months after the riots, a regional conference of LGBT activists in Philadelphia (the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations) voted in favor of replacing the Annual Reminder demonstrations, which had taken place at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on July 4 from 1965 through 1969, with an annual event to mark the anniversary of the riots,” explains Stein.
Photo: The Stonewall Inn in Manhattan, where a 1969 police raid led to riots, one of the most important events in the history of gay rights. Photo by Ryan McGrady.