OK. So I’m recycling posts. That’s OK. My writing was better 10 years ago. This post is originally from June, of 2006. I lifted it (almost) wholesale from the Archives. You’ll get over it.
Gay Pride is typically celebrated in June. This dates back to the early morning of June 28th, 1969, when a bunch of New York’s Finest bit off a bit more than they could chew. While several organizations were around before 1969, the start of the movement to secure Gay civil rights is usually marked by the Stonewall riots.
All you straight folks out there have no idea of gay history. I even had a protracted argument one day, with someone who was generally well educated and aware of political reality, that there were no gay bars before the 1980s. There were. They were underground, and even maintaining a low profile was no guarantee that police wouldn’t show up.
The Stonewall Inn was a gay bar in The Village neighborhood of New York. Since gay bars had been basically illegal before 1966, it was not uncommon for gay bars to be mafia run. Stonewall was reputed to be mafia run.
Prior to 1966 it was illegal for a bartender to serve a drink to 3 or more homosexuals. So of course, this being the 60s, a “sip in” was staged. The NY liquor board later stated that the rules never had been what the rules actually were, so gay bars started to proliferate after 66.
The police still took delight in harassing gays, lesbians and transgendered at every turn after 66. On June 27, 1969, a Friday night, they decided to raid the Stonewall Inn. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and the following Wednesday riots were the result of that raid.
(take a look at the desperate criminals arrested by police at a 1962 Halloween Party.
New York must have been VERY safe in 1962, if this is how police were spending their time on Halloween. Or maybe the cops were just a bunch of bigoted idiots back then.)
When police would raid a bar, they would arrest anyone “in clothes usually reserved for the other gender.” Drag queens and lesbians in butch attire. Sometimes they would simply arrest everyone in the bar. Often they would publish the names of those arrested in the paper.
As they were forcing a lesbian into a squad car on that Friday night in June, she struggled. The crowd decided she had the right idea, and attacked. There were 400 “onlookers” and 8 police, so the police retreated and barricaded themselves in the bar. Since resisting was not to be condoned the cops grabbed the first person they could and dragged him into the bar and beat him. That person was heterosexual folk singer Dave van Ronk, who had come from a straight club down the block to see what the commotion was all about. (Van Ronk was later charged with assaulting police.) A parking meter was uprooted and turned into a battering ram. Someone tried to set fire to the bar with the police inside. Eventually more police arrived and dispersed the crowd. The two following nights, and the next Wednesday saw more of the same, and galvanized the Gay Community.
The first Gay Pride parade took place the following year, in commemoration of the riots.