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Reflecting on the Stonewall Uprising

By June 28, 2020 July 18th, 2020 No Comments

Today, June 28, 2020, marks the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, and the 50th anniversary of the Christopher Street Liberation Day march that spread and eventually spawned the worldwide, annual Pride parades that we see and participate in today.

The Stonewall Uprising against police brutality, harassment, and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity invigorated the movement for LGBTQ+ rights that has since won protections for LGBTQ+ people and advanced equality nationwide and around the world.

We commemorate the brave resistance to oppression evidenced by the protesters and rioters at Stonewall. And we honor them and everyone in our LGBTQ+ communities by committing to fight for equality until all of us can live free from oppression, discrimination, and violence.

We’re celebrating the progress that LGBTQ+ activists and allies have fought for and won over the past five decades. They won the repeal of anti-sodomy laws and police entrapment, and laws criminalizing public same-sex displays of affection and gender non-conforming clothing. They won the repeal of the ban on LGB individuals in the military and the federal government, as well as the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. They won the freedom to marry and the protections and privileges that marriage licenses confer on spouses and families.

And most recently, they won a massive victory at the United States Supreme Court, which ruled that federal protections against discrimination on the basis of sex include sexual orientation and gender identity. As we celebrate Pride this year, we can finally say that LGBTQ+ individuals are entitled to employment and cannot be fired just for who they are or who they love.

We all benefit from these victories that have painstakingly built a more inclusive culture and a more equal society. However, there are still many fights yet to be won to ensure freedom and equality for everyone regardless of sexual and gender identity or sexual orientation.

Just as Stonewall serves as a reminder of how far we’ve come, it also reminds us of how far we have to go.

The Stonewall Inn was notable not just as a gay bar but in particular as a place that welcomed trans people who were often turned away from other gay bars in New York at the time. Stonewall also served as something of a sanctuary for homeless LGBT youth.

Today, transgender individuals still face an epidemic of anti-trans violence and discrimination. We’re only halfway through the year, and already at least 16 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been murdered. Anti-trans violence affects all transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, but it disproportionately targets trans women of color. We must work to end anti-trans violence and discrimination and ensure that trans people are protected in all aspects of their lives, from housing to education to employment to health care.

More than 50 years may have passed since LGBT youth who left home due to intolerance and violence found sanctuary at the Stonewall Inn, but LGBTQ+ youth still face high risks of homelessness. Research suggests that 20-40% of children and teenagers experiencing homelessness identify as LGBT, with family rejection and abuse cited as the top reasons for leaving home. We must work to ensure that all kids have a safe, supportive place to call home.

On the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, I celebrate the hard-won progress that LGBTQ+ communities have made towards equality and freedom. I also commit to continuing to fight beside my LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors until that progress is complete.

Happy Pride.