glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
home
arts
literature
social sciences
special features
discussion
about glbtq
   search

 
   Encyclopedia
   Discussion
 
 

   member name
  
   password
  
 
   
   Forgot Your Password?  
   
Not a Member Yet?  
   
JOIN TODAY. IT'S FREE!

 
  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy
  Copyright

 

 

 

 

 
social sciences

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Stonewall Riots  
 
page: 1  2  

The crowd swelled by hundreds more, as word of the riot spread and Greenwich Village residents, many of whom were lesbian and gay, hurried to the scene. Someone squirted lighter fluid inside the bar and attempted to ignite it. Several others grabbed a downed parking meter and used it as a battering ram against the front of the Stonewall. Still others chanted "Gay Power!"

Soon a riot-control police unit arrived to rescue the trapped officers and break up the demonstration. However, it would be more than an hour before the unit was finally able to disperse the crowd, and not before a group of drag queens taunted the police by singing at the top of their lungs, "We are the Stonewall girls / We wear our hair in curls / We wear no underwear / We show our pubic hair / We wear our dungarees / Above our nelly knees!"

Sponsor Message.

The first Stonewall Riot ended the morning of Saturday, June 28. That night the second riot broke out, as thousands of demonstrators--in the name of Gay Pride--flocked to the streets in front of and around the Stonewall Inn. Once again there were confrontations with the police until the early morning hours.

Over the next week, the protests and demonstrations continued in Greenwich Village, but on a smaller scale. The sense of anger that underlay the riots, the discovery that strength in numbers could match and even defeat the police, and the realization that members of the glbtq community did not have to tolerate meekly the customary bullying and harassment at the hands of the authorities, quickly led to politicization. A new era had begun.

Post-Stonewall

A month after the Stonewall Riots, the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was formed. Radical and leftist in orientation, the GLF was but one of many politically focused lesbian and gay organizations that formed in the wake of the riots, both in the United States and around the world.

The number of lesbian and gay publications skyrocketed as well, which led to an even greater sense of community. Homosexuals were no longer strictly marginalized in United States society. Rather, out and proud lesbians and gay men were rapidly developing their own communities in cities across the country.

Beginning in 1970, marches have taken place in New York City (as well as in countless places worldwide) every year on the date of the Stonewall Riots. In June 1994 hundreds of thousands of people converged on the city to celebrate Stonewall's 25th anniversary.

In 1999 the United States government proclaimed the Stonewall Inn as a national historic site. The following year, the status of the Stonewall was improved to "historic landmark," a designation held by only a small percentage of historical sites.

Stonewall's Legacy Today

While the political and communal effects of the Stonewall Riots are real enough, what actually occurred in those early morning hours has become the stuff of legend. This has led to controversy, as various segments of the glbtq community (for example, drag queens, butch lesbians, white gay men) have claimed responsibility for instigating what is also known as "The hairpin drop heard round the world."

Stonewall also means different things to different people, whether they identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, , or . Indeed, arguments among organizers during the 25th anniversary celebrations regarding the inclusion of drag queens and transgendered people in the march only highlighted rifts already present within the glbtq community.

In addition, queens of color--who were on the front lines during the riots--have complained of what they feel is the co-opting of Stonewall by gay white men. This sense of separatism and fragmentation should give us pause, for it is important to remember the original communal spirit--and the strength it inspired--of that fateful weekend at the Stonewall in 1969.

Andrew Matzner

  <previous page   page: 1  2    

    
 interact  
   
Contact Us
 
Join the Discussion
 
 find 
   
Related Entries
 
More Entries by this contributor
 
A Bibliography on this Topic

 
Citation Information
 
More Entries about Social Sciences
 
 


   Related Entries
  
arts >> Overview:  Drag Shows: Drag Queens and Female Impersonators

Female impersonation need say nothing about sexual identity, but it has for a long time been almost an institutionalized aspect of gay male culture.

social sciences >> Overview:  French Gay Liberation Movement

The French gay liberation movement was born during the early 1970s on the foundation of a courageous, if conservative, homophile movement and the thrust of a massive wave of social activism.

social sciences >> Overview:  Gay and Lesbian Bars

The centrality of gay and lesbian bars to glbtq culture has been reduced in recent years, but they continue to fulfill important functions; and, in many areas, they remain the most visible manifestation of glbtq presence.

social sciences >> Overview:  Gay Left

The Gay Left refers to a cluster of positions on the political spectrum that has existed within the lesbian and gay rights movement at least since the Stonewall riots.

social sciences >> Overview:  Gay Rights Movement, U. S.

The U.S. gay rights movement has made significant progress toward achieving equality for glbtq Americans, and in the process has become more inclusive and diverse, but much remains to be done.

social sciences >> Overview:  Holidays and Observances

Throughout the year, the glbtq community unites in pride and in protest, in recognition of a rich heritage and in hope for the future.

social sciences >> Overview:  Homophile Movement, U. S.

The homophile movement of the United States refers to organizations and political strategies employed by homosexuals from the end of World War II to 1970.

social sciences >> Overview:  Parades and Marches

Both parades and marches have served to render the glbtq community visible; whereas marches typically attempt to effect political change, parades and pride events affirm identity and community.

social sciences >> Cashman, Michael

British politician Michael Cashman gained fame as an actor before becoming a Labour Party member of the European Parliament where he worked diligently on behalf of equal rights.

social sciences >> Daughters of Bilitis

The first national lesbian political and social organization in the United States, the Daughters of Bilitis was a significant part of the pre-Stonewall lesbian and gay rights movement.

social sciences >> Duberman, Martin Bauml

Historian, biographer, essayist, playwright, and academic, Martin Bauml Duberman is an astute commentator on gender and race issues and a pioneer in glbtq studies.

arts >> Garland, Judy

The fragile persona and emotion-packed voice of actress and singer Judy Garland are powerfully linked to gay culture and identity; she appealed especially to gay men, but also to lesbians.

social sciences >> Gay Liberation Front

Formed soon after the Stonewall Riots of 1969, the short-lived but influential Gay Liberation Front brought a new militancy to the movement that became known as gay liberation.

social sciences >> The Legacy Walk (Chicago)

The Legacy Walk in Chicago is an outdoor history museum that reclaims and celebrates glbtq contributions to world history and culture.

social sciences >> Manford, Morty

A pioneer in the gay liberation movement, New York activist Morty Manford inspired his parents to help found the organization that became Parents, Families and Friends of Gays and Lesbians (PFLAG).

social sciences >> Mattachine Society

One of the earliest American gay movement organizations, the Mattachine Society was dedicated to the cultural and political liberation of homosexuals; but in the face of McCarthyism, it adopted conservative policies of accommodationism.

social sciences >> Rivera, Sylvia

A legendary veteran of the Stonewall Riots, Sylvia Rivera is notable for helping to spark the event that ushered in the modern-day Gay Rights Movement.

social sciences >> Vincenz, Lilli

Veteran activist Lilli Vincenz, who commenced her activism before Stonewall, also collected thousands of documents about the movement for glbtq rights; donated to the Library Congress, they provide scholars an invaluable resource.

literature >> Wilson, Doric

A pioneer in the development of contemporary gay theater, Doric Wilson has been instrumental in Off-Off-Broadway theater in New York City since the early 1960s.


    Bibliography
   

D'Emilio, John. Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States, 1940-1970. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

Deitcher, David, ed. The Question of Equality: Lesbian and Gay Politics in America since Stonewall. New York: Scribner, 1995.

Duberman, Martin. Stonewall. New York: Dutton/Plume, 1994.

Thompson, Mark, ed. Long Road to Freedom: The Advocate History of the Gay and Lesbian Movement. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Matzner, Andrew  
    Entry Title: Stonewall Riots  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated October 12, 2006  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/stonewall_riots.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  
 

 

This Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.

www.glbtq.com is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.