Gay Liberation Front march on Times Square in New York, N.Y., 1969. Photo by Diana Davies/The New York Public Library.
What happened at the Stonewall Inn in the early hours of 28 June 1969?
Why might these events be significant?
Anti-gay sentiment in the postwar era:
From 1952 to 1973, the American Psychological Association included homosexuality in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Gay people were also subject to harassment on the part of the FBI and local police. Official actions included raids, arrests, public exposure in the press. In some cases, consequences might even include jail or involuntary commitment to mental hospitals.
Social movements united and divided:
The Gay Liberation Front (GLF) had taken its name from the Women’s Liberation Front, which in turn was inspired by the Vietcong National Liberation Front.
GLF and other gay activists often sought to build ties with others facing systemic oppression, seeking to collaborate with feminist, Black Power, anti-war, and labor activists.
But these collaborations largely stalled, as dislike or fear of homosexuality permeated the majority of these other movements, with a few limited exceptions:
In 1970 Huey Newton, the chairman of the Black Panther party acknowledged that the party should try, “to form working coalitions with the gay liberation and women’s liberation groups.” He also noted that “homosexuals . . . might be the most oppressed people in society.”—Michael Bronski, A Queer History of the United States (Boston: Beacon Press, 2011), 216.