Courage, Grief, and History in the Month of Pride

Jun 2016

Today, city, state, and federal officials gathered at the Stonewall Inn in New York City to officially dedicate it as the first national monument to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights.

“We’re going to remember the struggle, we’re going to remember the people we lost, we’re going to remember that fateful night in 1969 — people here were pursuing something that is a fundamental part of the founding documents of this nation: The pursuit of happiness,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Stonewall joins landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon in being officially recognized as one of “America’s most important places.” Many view Stonewall as a birthplace of the LGBT rights movement in the United States. On June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar, was subject to a police raid – a common occurrence in the day. However, that evening, patrons resisted, and violence broke out between civilians and police. Today, the Stonewall Riots are seen as a breaking point – a symbolic moment in which community members cried out “enough is enough.” Many since have been inspired to stand up against anti-LGBT policies and sentiments in their own communities.

On Friday, President Barack Obama issued a statement:

I’m designating the Stonewall National Monument as the newest addition to America’s National Park System. Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights. I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country, the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us. That we are stronger together. That out of many, we are one.

The True Colors Fund applauds the President for this symbolic recognition of the worth of LGBT people in America. As a diverse nation, it’s so important that we recognize our history and thank those who struggled to create the society we live in today. Across the country, LGBT folks and their allies have been celebrating Pride Month throughout June. In the wake of the heartbreaking events that took place at Pulse nightclub in Orlando in which 49 LGBT folks lost their lives, the dedication of Stonewall carries even more weight. Nearly 50 years after the riots, marriage equality is finally a reality and acceptance of LGBT individuals is higher than its ever been – yet we are still seeing horrifying hate-based attacks against members of the community. These attacks come in the form of violence, as well as legislation – as state-level anti-LGBT bills have been sweeping the nation in alarming numbers.

Now more than ever, we must recognize that the effort for equality is far from over. The work that began that night at Stonewall must continue with new vigor until every young person in this country – whether they’re from New York City, Orlando, or North Carolina – can be their true selves.

Sources: CBS New York, The White House