THE STONEWALL INN
The 1950s and 60s were, in many ways, a dark time for our country. The Civil Rights movement was fully underway, and the infamous McCarthy hearings held America in an invisible prison of paranoia, shame, and secrecy. Most Americans know of these hearings as a witch hunt for communists, but these hearings included anyone and anything that could be deemed “un-American.” Among the suspected communists and anarchists, homosexuals were noted and tracked by the FBI and
June 8, 2018
State Department. Senator Clyde R. Hoey, a Democrat from North Carolina, stated that, “It is generally believed that those who engage in overt acts of perversion lack the emotional stability of normal persons,” and that [government agencies], “are in complete agreement that sex perverts in government constitute security risks.” In the wake of the Orlando Pulse massacre in 2016, many spoke out that gay bars are still one of the only places that the LGBTQ community can gather without fear of judgment. In 1969, however, police raids were commonplace using laws against gay people. Anti-sodomy laws and genderedclothing laws, among others, legislated against what was deemed indecency. The Stonewall Inn was founded in 1966 by the Genovese crime family. Though the bar did not have proper licensure, police were paid to stay away and for informants to notify the owners in the event of a planned raid. The morning of June 28th, that warning did not come. Police raided the bar and proceeded to arrest all patrons. In these raids, police would line up those inside, check for proper identification, and arrest those who did not have ID or were crossdressing. Drag queens and women not wearing at least three pieces of “feminine” clothing were the first hauled off to jail. That night, so many patrons were waiting outside to be transported to jail, that a large crowd of roughly 150 people formed. Tensions flared finally breaking out into full-blown violence. The crowd quickly grew to an estimated 600 people and the police were outnumbered. For approximately four hours, the riot continued. In the end, 13 people were arrested and four police officers were injured. The next night, hundreds of gay people, tourists, and, residents of Christopher Street gathered at the Stonewall Inn. Riots again broke out between 2am and 4am.