The Stonewall Inn

Stonewall Inn Present Day
Stonewall Inn, birthplace of the modern gay-rights movement, festooned with gay-pride banners and flags the weekend after Gay Pride Day. Taken June 30, 2012. Photo by Daniel Case.

During the 1960s, the LGBTQ+ community were not yet widely accepted in New York City. Certain discriminatory laws were in place that did not allow for the community to be served alcohol, show public displays of affection, or dance with each other, and as a result of this, regular bars were considered dangerous for non-straight people. The mafia was extremely relevant at this time, and they decided to invest in renovating and reopening the Stonewall Inn as a gay bar in 1966. They saw helping to create a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community as an efficient way to both make money and defy the law simultaneously. This bar allowed young homeless members of the community stay there overnight, as well as treating all members of the community with kindness and respect, something they did not receive at regular bars. It sheltered them from all the harassment that they faced on a daily basis. One important factor of the Stonewall Inn is that the bar did not have a liquor license since they allowed their customers to bring their own alcohol. The police were bribed to ignore this fact in the beginning, however they chose to address it three years after opening on June 28th, 1969.


Some artifacts from the riots can be seen here:

        Round gay pride button which says 'Christopher St. Gay Pride 1974,' in pink, orange, and yellow Black text on white. Around border: GAY PRIDE DAY East Side Sauna. In center: 10th Anniversary / June 24, '79. White, circular pin-back button with black rim; pink inverted equilateral triangle in middle; black text above reads: 'GAY'
Pin-back buttons distributed following the Stonewall Riots in 1969. Courtesy of the New-York Historical Society.

These are three buttons that were worn following the Stonewall riots during well pride parades that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s. People wore these buttons because of the influence that Johnson and Rivera had in terms of the LGBTQ+ community fighting againt their oppressors and voicing their opinions. These pins were one form of expression.