In New York, there is always cause to celebrate during the month of June. Every year during the this time, the city plays host to a diverse array of queer-positive events celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community, also known as Pride. During Pride, visitors can attend performances, rallies, parties and lectures in honor of their community, culminating in the largest Pride March in the world (this year, the march takes place on Sunday, June 30th).
This year is particularly special as it marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, an important catalyst in the advancement of the Gay Rights Movement that took place in 1969. To commemorate this historic milestone, over 3 million people are expected to visit New York to attend the over 50 events scheduled for this year’s WorldPride celebration.
A Brief History of Stonewall
Around 1am on Saturday, June 28th 1969, eight policemen raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village (the bar still stands today as a National Historic Landmark located just a fifteen-minute cab ride from The Wagner). Back then, raids like these were common, especially at gay bars. The standard protocol for these raids was to arrest any persons dressed in drag or women who did not meet the requirement of wearing at least three items of “feminine clothing.” They would also seize alcohol from the establishments without a proper liquor license. Since the Stonewall Inn had no liquor license and was the only gay bar in the neighborhood with a dance floor, it was at risk for all of these then-infractions. Typically, however, tip-offs were given in advance of these planned raids so that the establishments could prepare accordingly. But no tip-off came before the raid on June 28th, 1969, and the events that followed would dramatically shape the course history.
When the eight officers first arrived at the Stonewall Inn, there were reportedly around 200 young people at the bar. But when the first patrol made its way to the scene, the crowd had grown to over ten times the size. When officers tried to physically control the crowd by pushing or shoving bystanders, the crowd fought back. The rebellion grew in fervor, as crowd members began shouting slogans like “Gay Power!” and singing “We Shall Overcome.” The riots continued for a second night, and the New York LGBT community made news for their defiant and courageous stance. The riots sparked an urgency in the community that spread throughout the nation. Soon afterwards activists across the country found ways to speak out and organize. Just one year after the riots at Stonewall, the first Gay march took place on Christopher Street in the Village, accompanied by simultaneous Gay Pride marches in Los Angeles and Chicago. Within two years, marches would take place in over ten more cities in the United States.
Now, Pride marches take place every June in major cities worldwide. Thanks in part to the Stonewall Uprisings and the movements they inspired, today’s LGBTQIA+ communities are free to march with pride in these celebrations.
The events scheduled for 2019’s WorldPride and Stonewall50 celebrations express the breadth and diversity of the community. This year, visitors are invited to choose from fun-filled parties, commemorative events, human rights rallies, film screenings and more. Here are some of our recommendations for the month’s festivities:
Join leading activists, artists, students and policymakers in an engaging discussion about LGBTQIA+ human rights around the world. This two-day conference takes place from June 24th-25th at the New York Law School, and promises to be a multimedia introduction into gay rights and human rights activism.
Party the day away with fellow women and women-identified members of the LGBTQIA+ community at this exclusive rooftop party. There will be food, drinks, dancing and lots of mingling with the over 1,000 people who are expected to join from all over the country.
Bring your family to this outdoor film party at Hudson River Park’s Pier 45. Hosted by drag legend Miss Richfield, Family Movie Night is free and appropriate for families of all ages.
Take part in the final celebration of the month during NYC Pride’s Closing Ceremony at Times Square. Hear from influential speakers and musical sensations, including singer-songwriter icon, Melissa Ethridge.