Stonewall Inn: Steadfast Symbol of Equality, Now, National Monument

Stonewall HERO

Early in the morning of June 28, 1969, a dive bar in New York City suddenly became the epicenter of the modern LGBT rights movement.

Nearly 47 years later, Stonewall has become the first-ever national monument recognizing the struggle for LGBT rights, further solidifying its powerful place in the history books. It joins icons like the Statue of Liberty as a symbol of American freedom and prosperity — and, of course, equality for all.

The declaration of Stonewall as a national monument comes almost exactly a year since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. It also comes on the heels of the tragic events in Orlando, in which 49 were killed and 53 injured at Pulse, a gay nightclub.

The Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village, was a gathering spot for gay men and women at a time when openly socializing as an LGBT person in the U.S. could mean arrest. The bar was frequently the target of police raids to break up such socializing. But, by the early summer of 1969, when free love and equal rights reverberated across the nation, the people of Stonewall declared enough was enough.

With a raid, they fought back. For six days, LGBT people and supporters refused arrest in a statement that has come to mark the beginning of the modern gay rights movement. The date, June 28, is tied to Pride celebrations across the U.S.

As New York representative Jerrold Nadler, who co-authored the legislation to designate the area a part of the National Park Service, has said, “We must ensure that we never forget the legacy of Stonewall, the history of discrimination against the LGBT community, or the impassioned individuals who have fought to overcome it. The LGBT civil rights movement launched at Stonewall is woven into American history, and it is time our National Park system reflected that reality."