Stonewall Riots Sparked the First Gay Pride March in Manhattan

Toni Koraza
First-ever Gay Pride in Greenwich Village, NYCLibrary of Congress

First Gay Pride took place near Washington Square Park and Broadway in West Village and has been going on every year ever since.

Nearly 1,500 openly LGBTQ+ members work in American federal agencies.

The real numbers are probably higher because the social stigma is still strong for sexual minorities. However, these numbers are a sign of progress and a clear signal that individual groups were always an essential part of American society.

The question of gay rights and dignity is still far from being resolved. Most of the discriminatory culture, policy, and laws are a colonial heritage left by the British Empire. Putting Gay Rights in plain numbers clearly demonstrates the glaring problem the LGBTQ+ population faces every day.

  • Only 29 countries legally allow same-sex marriage.
  • 69 countries criminalize homosexuality. (I’d love to joke about the number, but it’s not funny.)
  • 34 UN countries have prosecuted gay people recently.
  • 36 Commonwealth countries criminalize homosexuality.
  • 8 countries have imposed capital punishment, mainly in Africa and Muslim countries that abide by Sharia law.

Capital punishment has recently been recognized as a form of genocide, but this perception is young and fragile. That’s why it’s essential to talk about sexual minorities and demanded institutional and cultural change.

Stonewall Riots sparked the first Gay Pride in Greenwich Village, Near Broadway and Washington Square Park

Gay Pride is a social group that promotes dignity, equality, and acceptance of LGBTQ+ people in global societies. America prides itself on diversity and inclusiveness. Letting people openly show who they are without being prosecuted and discriminated against in their workplace, neighborhood, and their homes.

The uprising of Gay demonstrations coincided with the Civil Rights Movement, Counterculture of the 1960s, and the Anti-Vietnam War Movement. The 1960s were a decade of intense social progress. Greenwich Village, a neighborhood in New York City that stretches from 14th Street to Houston Street, absorbed most of the global influence and exploded into Stonewall riots, a moment that changed the history for LGTBQ+ communities.

NYPD stormed Stonewall Inn (51–53 Christopher St) in the early morning hours of June 28. Police raids on gay establishments were common in the 1960s. The police lost control and violently attacked the guests inside Stonewall Inn. The violence reached a breaking point. Gay people started fighting back, and the spark inflamed a new chapter in social history. NYPD won the fight that morning but consequently lost the battle.

Greenwich Village was home to affluent LQBTQ+ minorities, together with progressive artists and free thinkers. Following the Stonewall Inn incident, Village residents flocked streets from Broadway to Hudson River in demonstrations against police brutality over sexual minorities. Village residents organized groups and pushed to create establishments where gay men and lesbians can freely live without fear of prosecution and police brutality. They were essentially demanding the same Human Rights that America forcefully propagated around the world.

Gay activists successfully started NGOs with goals to promote gay rights. The first Gay Pride March took place in New York a year later. Visitors from all over the world walked through Lower Manhattan, Fifth Avenue, and Greenwich Village before finally passing the Stonewall National Monument. Los Angeles and San Francisco welcomed the same march that year in solidarity with New York, which spread around the globe as one of the most iconic gay demonstrations in history. The last open NYC Pride March in 2019 welcomed over 4 million supporters to the streets of Manhattan.

Gay Pride still an essential part of the LGBTQ+ story

Most people accept gay rights in theory but don’t really care much about sexual minorities in reality. As a result, you’ve probably heard problematic phrases like, “I don’t care what they do behind closed doors,” and “It’s OK as long as they don’t do it in public.” We can explain the homophobic nature of these statements in another article, but for now, let’s focus on why it’s still essential for gay people and supporters to demonstrate around the world.

Until recently, being gay was a punishable crime in the United States. Famous and affluent individuals would have to hide their sexuality to avoid prosecution and loss of income. Lower classes would be stoned, cudgeled, or otherwise shot if caught with another person of the same sex.

Even today, gay people are still brutally murdered in America.

Even after gay marriage was legalized and rectified in the law of certain states, gays still don’t enjoy social equality. Murder and torture of gay individuals is still an occurring reality in the United States.

The American military also has a poor track record of treating gay people. As a result, being gay could get American troops dishonorably discharged, tainting their service, reputation, and future prospects.

Miriam Ben-Shalom was the first woman to fight back after being expelled from the US Army. She was an honored Staff Sergeant before her peers realized her sexual nature. After being discharged for the crimes of homosexuality in 1976, she had challenged the decision in an American court. Miriam Ben-Shalom victoriously returned to military service in 1987, almost 11 years after the incident and just 33 years ago. She is the first openly gay person to be reinstated to US military service.

Miriam Ben-Shalom is one of many who has been discriminated against based on something she didn’t choose. We are slowly righting the historical wrongs. It’s essential to remember that Gay Rights and Marches are not some debaucheries but a real political cause for a situation that is far from resolved. It may take years until society fully integrates LGBTQ+ communities and finds a harmonious way where we can all prosper together.

Love is the central message of every Gay Pride March, and love is everything worth fighting for.

If you ever visit Manhattan, find your way down 7th Avenue and visit Stonewall Inn for a night of drinks. You're in for a double treat if you're a fan of the iconic TV show Friends. The tan-brick building that served as the exterior for their apartment in the famous sitcom is right across the road (90 Bedford St).

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Curious Fellow | Founder at Mad Company, and MadX.Digital | Writes about Current Events, Lifestyle, and Money |

Miami, FL

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