The month of June is coming to a close, the heat is rising, and the NYC Pride Parade is here! We need to bring a little pride month history to our HOWL readers. For those of you who didn't know, or have been living under a rock this last month and missed all the rainbows everywhere, June is Pride Month for the LGBTQ+ community!
The date was July 4th, 1965 when the LGBTQ+ community organized the first of many Annual Reminders; a modest group of about 40 people met to peacefully protest and picket in the Independence Hall in Philadelphia, led by the Daughters of Bilitis (the first lesbian civil and political rights organization in the USA) and the Mattachine Society (one of the earliest homophile organizations in the United States).
The oppressive 50's and 60's were taking a toll and anyone who wasn't male, white, cisgender and/or straight, so homophile movements started sparking up all over the country.
Above: Protest on July 4th 1965, Independence Hall, Philadelphia. Source: LGBTQ Nation
Homosexuality used to be called homophilia, a now outdated term. Homophilia comes from the words homo+phile, the latter is Greek for love. To this day, some people still prefer homophilia as it emphasizes the word love over sex.
As the 60's came to an end, LGBTQ community was becoming more vocal and adamant about the lack of civil rights protections they received. On June 28th, 1969 the Stonewall Riot broke out, creating a snowball effect of riots to follow all over New York and subsequently, the entire United States.
The Stonewall Riot took place at the Stonewall Inn, an allegedly Mafia-owned gay bar, the first of its kind in NYC. Known mostly for the booze, the drugs, and the dancing, Stonewall was constantly raided for its lack of a liquor license and for being a homophile establishment.
Back to the early morning of June 28th, 1969, it was around 2 a.m. that four undercover police officers, two male, and two female, infiltrated the Stonewall Inn, only to end up being caught inside the bar as the raid went wrong. The reinforcements didn't show up in time, and it was the four of them against a swelling crowd of angry patrons. When the reinforcements finally did show up and started arresting people, bystanders recall that the crowd began to fight the police as soon as one woman screamed: "Why don't you guys do something?"  as she was dragged to the back of a police car, quickly escalating the situation to the point where the Tactical Police Force of the New York City Police Department arrived to free the trapped police officers inside the Stonewall and to break off the riot.
As an aftermath of Stonewall, a series of riots and movements were ignited; first in the Greenwich Village of NYC for the days to come, eventually spreading across the nation to the West Coast.