In June 1969, in the violent wake of a police raid on a New York bar, Stonewall was born – a defining moment remembered here by those who protested
The Stonewall riots started in the early hours of 28 June 1969 during a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, Greenwich Village, a favourite haunt of gay and lesbian New Yorkers. As customers were hauled out in handcuffs, the crowd outside erupted into fury. That night’s rioting was followed by days of further violent demonstrations in the neighbourhood. It would change LGBT activism for ever. The riots switched protest up a gear and pushed for an unapologetic, inclusive, enlightened culture in which gay pride would see off shame for good.
Fifty years later, Stonewall is one of the most significant global landmarks in the fight for gay rights (the gay rights campaign group in the UK is named after it). In June, the movement’s 50th anniversary will be celebrated in New York with a month of partying, lectures and readings and “the biggest Pride celebration in the world”. A key part of the festivities will be the New York Public Library’s exhibition and its tremendous accompanying book: Love and Resistance, Stonewall at 50. The book is edited by Jason Baumann, coordinator of the library’s LGBT initiative, and features photographs by Kay Tobin Lahusen and Diana Davies, an archive that Baumann describes as the “great queer treasures of the New York Public library”.