Monday, November 07, 2005

Stonewall Part II: The Gay One

The Stonewall riots (or alternatively the Stonewall rebellion) kicked off on Friday, June 27, 1969 when police raided the Stonewall Inn and continued for several nights. The police raided Stonewall, a gay bar in New York's West Village, on the premise that it sold alcohol without a liquor license. Cops entered the bar at 1:20 AM and forced the patrons to file out in a procession that became a transvestite Academy Awards show according to the Daily News reports at the time. The cops smashed up the booze bottles and confiscated the cash register, fistfights broke out, and pretty soon a full on riot with an estimated 2000 people was underway. To the credit of the rioters, they took much of the fanfare and festive spirit which characterizes later gay rights movements (and makes it unique among rights movements) to their rioting. There was singing and dancing, as well as bottle throwing and billy clubbing. Although gay rights movements had been swelling in major cities in the US and Europe for most of the 1960s, the Stonewall riot/rebellion became a rallying point for gay civil rights.

Today google searches on the word "Stonewall" bring more hits for Stonewall the bar than Stonewall the Confederate General. The Confederate General and gay bar are distant nick relatives, though they both were involved in rebellious activity of a very different kind.

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