Hello my lovelies! I hope you’ve all had a good week and are looking forward to having a little more freedom now that the lockdown rules are slowly reducing. Now, as you may already know, June is pride month. And since this is my first ever pride month being what I would consider ‘officially out’ as pansexual, I’ve been taking some time reading and learning more and more about pride and the history of the LGBTQ+ community.
So for today’s post I’m going to be giving you a brief lesson on some LGBTQ+ history. Most of my knowledge has come from the LGBTQ+ community, the Stonewall charity (thank you for teaching me about important moments and dates in history and supporting the community for so many years), some LGBTQ+ books (I will be making a list of these in another post very soon) and other websites that I have found online.
I’ll be going through the key dates that I’ve learnt about from Stonewall and some of the history I’ve learnt from some LGBTQ+ books I’ve been reading. Also, if you want to learn the history year to year, please check out Stonewall’s ‘Key dates for lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality’ as it’s super informative.
And with all that said and done, let’s jump into our time machine and get started.
One of the biggest moments in LGBTQ+ history, was the Stonewall riots in 1969. These were a number of violent demonstrations by the LBGTQ+ community against a police raid on the Stonewall Inn. The Stonewall Inn was a pub, and it’s patrons had regularly faced unjust harassment by the police; and on Saturday the 28th June 1969, at 1.20am, eight police officers raided the inn. There were around 200 people in the bar that night and they had had enough of being raided time and time again and refused to accept what was happening to them. So, they refused to cooperate with the police.
The police decided they were going to take every person there into custody and to the station, but the police wagons were not there yet. So this meant patrons had to wait in line for 15 minutes, and if they weren’t arrested (it was illegal to serve alcohol to gay people, for gay people to dance together, to be dressed in drag and women were not allowed to be wearing less than three items of feminine clothing) they were released from the front door. However, to the police’s surprise, those released weren’t leaving, instead they stopped outside and a crowd began to form and watch.
After several minutes around 150 people were stood outside, and when the first police wagon arrived the crowd had increased to at least ten times the number of people who had been arrested. The crowd was tense, and it was when a lesbian was hit on the head with a club after saying her handcuffs were too tight whilst being escorted/thrown into to the police wagon that the crowd finally snapped.
The crowd then attempted to overturn the police wagon, and beer bottles and bricks were thrown. The police were outnumbered by approximately 600 people, ten officers barricaded themselves in the Stonewall Inn for their own safety as everything was being thrown at the building, from bottles to bins; smashing all of the windows and then a parking meter was uprooted and used as a battering ram on the Stonewall Inns doors.
The police trapped in the inn were then freed by the Tactical Police Force of the New York City Police Department when they arrived. And they arrested anyone they could get their hands on and put them in wagons ready to go to jail.
By 4am that same night/day (early morning? However you like to class the early hours of the morning), the streets were finally clear. 13 people were arrested, with some members who were in the crowd being hospitalised and four police officers injured.
Pretty much everything in the Stonewall Inn was broken. No one knows if it was from the riot or the police.
The news of the riot quickly spread through Greenwich Village and then, the following night, the rioting surrounding Christopher street began again. Thousands gathered in front of Stonewall, which had reopened. The crowd filled Christopher street and spilled out into the near streets. Fires were started in bins, and then the police arrived once again with the battle continuing until 4am the next morning.
On the Wednesday, approximately 1000 protesters gathered once again, with another battle between the crowd and police taking place. Protesters and police were injured, shops were looted and five people were arrested.
And that was the riots that put a lot of wheels in motion for the LGBTQ+ community and the changes needing to be made.
A few years after the riots, the first Pride was held in London in 1972, attracting around 2000 participants and has grown ever since!
And then in July 2013 the Marriage Act 2013 was passed in the UK Parliament which then came into force in 2014 with the first same-sex marriages in England and Wales taking place on the 29th March 2014!
Love is love. Love will always win.
I could make this post about 1 million times longer because we have a lot of history. You can check out a timeline here which was put together by Stonewall. And finally, last bit of history for today, here are some names you need to know and remember:
- Sylvia Rivera – a queer, Latina and self-identified drag queen who fought tirelessly for transgender rights and the rights of gender non-conforming people and was said to have thrown the first brick in the Stonewall riots. She also started S.T.A.R. (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) which is a group focused on providing shelter ans support to queer homeless young people with Marsha P. Johnson. She also fought against the exclusion of trans people in New York’s Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act.
- Marsha P. Johnson – a black trans woman, sex worker and activist who spent the majority of her life fighting for equality. She was a mother figure to drag queens, trans women and homeless youth. She was alongside Sylvia during the Stonewall riots and founded S.T.A.R together. They were central to the start of the gay liberation movement of the 1970s in the US.
- Josephine Baker – a bisexual woman and entertainer of the Jazz Age. She was one of the most successful African-American performers in French history and used her platform as an entertainer to advocate for desegregation. She refused to perform in venues that were segregated and even spoke at the 1963 March on Washington. Josephine also served as a spy for the French in WW2, passing secrets along that she heard from the German soldiers when she performed for them.
- Karl Heinrich Ulrichs – a gay man who was the first person to publicly ‘come out’. He was a judge in Germany until his colleagues found out he was gay in 1854, after resigning he became an activist for gay rights.
- Michael Dillon – the first trans man to undergo reassignment surgery and transition. He then became a doctor and then served as a naval doctor.
- Bayard Rustin – an openly gay man who was a close friend of Martin Luther King Jr, and organiser of the 1963 March on Washington.
There’s so many incredible people that are a part of our history, and if today’s post has taught you anything (I hope it has!), it’s that learning about your history is important and you can never stop learning!
Did you learn anything new from today’s post? Are you celebrating pride this month? I’m excited to be celebrating my first pride and I am extremely grateful for all of those who have fought for what we have right now. Love will always win. Happy Pride Month my loves!
Have a great weekend my lovelies, stay safe!
If you can, please check out the link here to sign petitions you might not have seen yet, donate and help fight racism! #BlackLivesMatter