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Joe Biden & Elton John dedicate historic visitors’ center at Stonewall National Monument

Joe Biden & Elton John dedicate historic visitors’ center at Stonewall National Monument
Photo: Screenshot CBS New York

On Friday, President Joe Biden joined out musician Elton John and a parade of LGBTQ+ activists and allies to dedicate a new visitors’ center at the Stonewall National Monument in New York.

The National Park Service monument in Greenwich Village, at the site of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, is the first in the country honoring LGBTQ+ people.

“To this day, Stonewall remains a symbol of the legacy and leadership of the LGBTQ+ community — especially trans women of color — who, for generations, have been at the forefront of helping realize the promise of America for all Americans,” Biden told a cheering crowd at the event.

With the riots, “the heart of this movement was ignited,” Biden said, “and the course of history has changed forever.” 

President Obama designated the blocks surrounding the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street as a national monument in 2016. In 2022, the nonprofit Pride Live announced the acquisition of 51 Christopher Street — next door to the tavern that bears the monument’s name — and its plans to open a visitor center.

The center’s inauguration ceremony included an announcement that the Christopher Street subway station has been renamed as the Christopher Street-Stonewall National Monument.

Biden introduced John as “a good friend” who has “empowered countless people to be themselves, to be treated with dignity and the respect they deserve, including those in the fight against HIV/AIDS, a fight he led with sheer willpower.” 

“I can say as a proud English gay man that this is one of the biggest honors of my life to be here today, having watched what took place 55 years ago,” John said of the uprising. “Fifty-five years ago, in this sacred spot of the Stonewall uprising, gay activists stood strong and ignited a movement that has changed history for the better.”

But, John warned, “the fight for freedom and equality is an ongoing one,” adding, “Over 540 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced in state legislatures across America this year. Disgraceful.”

“And, as President Biden has reminded us, today too we face one of those seminal moments,” John continued. “Do we stand up for our vision and our values, or let misinformation and senseless scapegoating turn back the clock? No f**king way. No!”

In response to his profanity, the crowd roared and a smiling Biden made the sign of the cross.

The president and John followed a long line of enthusiastic Stonewall supporters on the eve of Pride weekend in Manhattan, including the president’s wife, Jill Biden, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), New York Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D), Human Rights Campaign president Kelly Robinson, and Greenwich Village Assemblymember Deborah Glick (D), who became the first openly gay member elected to that body in 1990.

“I would never have imagined that I would vote for marriage equality, or be here today for the opening of this visitors center to a national monument,” Glick said. “It is my hope that the ripples of understanding will spread from here across the country, to ensure a future free of discrimination and homophobia for all Americans.”

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