This photo, taken June 28, 1969, depicts the night that would come to define the modern equality movement.
At the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village, patrons spontaneously fought back during an early morning police raid.
Raids of LGBTQ establishments were common at the time, but on this particular night, there was a collective feeling in the air: the community had had enough. Rioting broke out, and while no one really knows who started it for sure, it is widely believed that drag king Stormé DeLarverie was the catalyst.
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DeLarverie famously shouted “Why don’t you guys do something!” as police tried to drag her away. She then allegedly threw the first punch. Black trans activist Marsha P. Johnson and Puerto Rican trans activist Sylvia Rivera are also credited with initiating the riots, but a wide and diverse group of people were witnessed at the bar that fateful night.
Protesting and rioting continued for several nights. Capitalizing on the momentum, those protestors then became organizers, and those organizers launched the movement as we know it today.
While the Stonewall Riots were pivotal, they were far from the first time the community stood up for its rights. Other events throughout the 1960s helped lay the groundwork for what was to come at Stonewall and beyond.
1965 marked a series of protests for what at the time was known as gay liberation.
That year marked the first-ever gay liberation protests at the White House, the Pentagon, the United Nations, Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, and more.
The above photo depicts a July 4, 1965 protest in which 40 brave souls risked their jobs, safety, and reputations to march outside Independence Hall and demand legal equality. The protestors donned formal wear in an attempt to demonstrate that gay people were respectable members of society.
Every year from 1965-1969 protestors gathered at Independence Hall in what became known as the “Annual Reminders.”