Stonewall 1969

WHY WE CELEBRATE PRIDE

In June 1969, a seemingly insignificant incident occurred in a New York bar, but it was so unexpected and so dramatic that it has since become the birth of the modern LGBTIQ movement. For the first time in history, lesbians, gay and transgender people spontaneously and massively defended themselves against police despotism.

On the night of 27th-28th June 1969, the New York Police conducted one of their usual raids. It claimed that Stonewall Inn, a place frequented by gays, lesbians and transgender people in Greenwich Village, was serving alcohol without a licence. The employees were arrested, the guests driven out of the restaurant and the club closed.

But unlike previous police raids of that kind, the guests did not disperse this time, but stopped in front of the bar on the street to see what would happen next. As people were taken away in a detention cart, the situation escalated. The nine policemen who remained on the spot were pelted with coins and bottles by the crowd, after which they barricaded themselves in the bar. The crowd tried to storm the bar, but was prevented from doing so by summoned police reinforcements. Before the police pulled out of Stonewall Inn, they smashed and devastated the bar and flooded it with water. When the last police left, a sign was posted that same night announcing the reopening of the bar for that evening, which also happened.

@copy; Fred W. McDarrah
Stonewall Inn

The news of this violent confrontation spread like wildfire throughout the Village. Many curious bystanders came to the neighbourhood during the day. In the evening, more and more people gathered in front of Stonewall Inn. Demonstrating and being provocative, gays, lesbians, and transgender people made themselves visible, held hands, kissed, shouted slogans, and confidently enjoyed freedom that they had hardly ever seen before. The police wanted to disperse the crowd, but people just ran around the blocks and kept coming back. Lesbians, gays, and transgender people had conquered the neighbourhood. It was not until about three-thirty on Sunday morning that the police were finally able to disperse the crowd.
The name of the bar, Stonewall, has also become synonymous for the fight of lesbians, gays and transgender people against being oppressed and for their freedom like the address of the bar: Christopher Street. Most of the events organised by the LGBTIQ movement since the 1970s in memory of the events of 1969, usually around the anniversary day in June, “Christopher Street Day”, are therefore concisely referred to as CSD in most German-speaking places. However, the Pride Parade in Vienna has been called Rainbow Parade (Regenbogenparade) since it first took place in 1996.

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