Last November while visiting my friend Susan in Manhattan, she took me down to Greenwich Village to see the actual Stonewall Inn. It was a special moment for me. One of the best pictures of me taken in a long time was taken by Susan of me in front of Stonewall Inn. We even went inside the bar, which was not crowded in the middle of the day, and it was one of the darkest lit bars I have ever been in. It was really interesting to see and experience. Fifty-one years ago today, the Stonewall Riots began when police raided the bar. The Riot continued for the next three nights. Raids of gay bars in New York City, particularly Greenwich Village, were not uncommon in the summer of 1969. What made the raid on the Stonewall on June 27 so different was that the patrons of the bar resisted instead of going peacefully.
Today, the Stonewall inn is a national monument. Often referred to as “the birth of the modern LGBTQ rights movement,” the bar was designated a national monument to LGBTQ rights in 2016. However, the historic Stonewall Inn is on the verge of closure after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to close for the past several months. The owners have launched a crowdfunding initiative to save the bar and community landmark.
According to the GoFundMe page, the owners said, “We are reaching out because like many families and small businesses around the world, the Stonewall Inn is struggling. Our doors have been closed for over three months to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of patrons, staff and the community. Even in the best of times it can be difficult to survive as a small business and we now face an uncertain future. Even once we reopen, it will likely be under greatly restricted conditions limiting our business activities.”
The owners continued, “We resurrected the Stonewall Inn once after it had been shuttered—and we stand ready to do it again—with your help. We worked diligently to resurrect it as a safe space for the community and to keep the Stonewall Inn at the epicenter of the fight for the LGBTQ+ rights movement. It has been a community tavern, but also a vehicle to continue the fight that started there in 1969. Stonewall is the place the community gathers for celebrations, comes to grieve in times of tragedy, and rally to continue the fight for full global equality.”
“Today, we are asking you to help Save Stonewall!” they wrote. “The Stonewall Inn faces an uncertain future and we are in need of community support. The road to recovery from the COVID 19 pandemic will be long and we need to continue to safeguard this vital piece of living history for the LGBTQ community and the global human rights movement and we now must ask for your help to save one of the LGBTQ+ communities most iconic institutions and to keep that history alive.”
As I write this, the effort has raised $211,095 of their $225,000 goal. The bar also has a separate GoFundMe to help pay staff who have been unemployed during the shutdown. Also, as I was writing this, $34,383 has been raised of $60,000 goal since it was launched in April. I know times are tough right now for many people, but if you can contribute, I ask that you do. I would hate to see this historic landmark be shuttered again.
If you want to read more about the Stonewall Riots, I did a number of posts about the early gay rights movement and the Stonewall Riots on this blog about ten years ago.