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National Park Service Announces Initiative to Begin Marking Places of Significance for LGBT Americans

Sat May 31 2014 1:08 pm
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The U.S. National Park Service will begin marking sites of significance to the history of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced at the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan.

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced Friday May 30, 2014 — at a press conference outside The Stonewall inn — that a national initiative for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans by the National Park Service will begin marking places of significance for LGBT Americans to mark their contributions to state and U.S. history.

The Stonewall Inn is a gay tavern and recreational bar in New York City and the site of the Stonewall riots of 1969. The riot is considered to be the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for gay and lesbian rights in the United States.

The Stonewall opened in its space on March 18, 1967, and was the largest gay establishment in the U.S. Business was good, but police raids were common. Started by members of the gay community, a series of violent riots started June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn closed in late 1969. In one riot police were greatly outnumbered and protesters hurled bottles and bricks at police. The crowd also formed kick lines. Gay protesters in the kick lines were hit with police night sticks.

Tensions increased during a series of riots that involved New York City police and gay residents of Greenwich Village. Alleged police mistreatment of a lesbian in handcuffs is reported to have sparked the riots, continued over the next several nights. Several people were injured and arrested. At least four police officers were injured. Outnumbered police officer barricaded themselves inside the bar to protect themselves from the angry crowd outside. Police and people inside the bar were rescued, and the bar was closed down an dismantled. The following year, on June 28, 2014, the first Gay Parade marches took place in Chicago, Los Angeles as well as New York. Gay parades have continued annually near the end of June.

After the Stonewall Inn of 1969 was dismantled, the building was occupied by various other establishments, including a bagel sandwich shop, a Chinese restaurant, and a shoe store for about 20 years. Many visitors and new residents in the neighborhood were unaware of the building’s history or its connection to the Stonewall riots. In the early 1990s, a new gay bar, named simply “Stonewall” opened in the west half of the original Stonewall Inn. The block of Christopher Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues was given the honorary name of “Stonewall Place” by the Borough of Manhattan.

“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths—that all of us are created equal—is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall. . . . Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law—for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

— President Barack Obama, inaugural address January 21, 2013

President Barack Obama referenced the Stonewall riots in a call for full equality during his second inaugural address on January 21, 2013, which marked the first mention of gay rights or the word “gay” in a presidential inaugural address.

View Larger Map
Marker of the location of Stonewall in West Village New York.

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