It was a hot Summer in Davenport, Iowa when one of the world’s biggest gay icons passed away on June 27, 1969 (Judy Garland). People were still mourning, at her Manhattan memorial, when the weekend of June 27-29, 1969 became a turning point in the struggle for gay equality. That’s when the Stonewall Riots happened. Now, I truly believe that Garland’s spirit incited the confrontations between police and demonstrators at the Stonewall Inn. For Stonewall spearheaded the modern-day Gay Pride Movement. I’m not the only one who has ever speculated that Judy Garland’s death might have effected the events that would happen. For on June 28th, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Back then, gay bars often got raided by police. Bar owners would be fined, which would allow them to open for business the next day. The Stonewall raid began like all other raids, on gay bars, at the time: police would enter the establishment, arrest the employees, and would kick out the patrons. But, on this particular evening, the evicted crowd gathered outside the Stonewall, instead of typically running away & hiding (fearing being outed or arrested). At some point, someone defied the police. Historians really don’t know who that person was. But once it happened, things got pretty violent. The police, who weren’t used to any resistance from gays, started beating those they could reach with night sticks. In a short time, the crowd swelled by hundreds more, as word of the riot spread. This first Stonewall Riot ended on the morning of Saturday, June 28th. That night, the second riot broke out, as thousands of demonstrators, in the name of Gay Pride, gathered on the streets around the Stonewall Inn. Once again, there were confrontations with the police until the early morning hours. And, for the first time, gays realized that they did not have to tolerate bullying and harassment from the authorities. Clearly, a new era had begun. And, for any reader who has ever wondered why the gay community celebrates Gay Pride at the end of June (every year), they’ll now know that it’s in honor of Stonewall. And by the way, the rainbow flag has its’ roots with Garland’s song, Over The Rainbow (that’s a true story)!
#1 song when the Stonewall Riots happened: