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  • Dr. Lauren D. Costine

Today is the Anniversary of The Stonewall Riots – June 28th, 1969

Today is the Anniversary of The Stonewall Riots – June 28th, 1969

On the Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, we celebrate the heroes and heroines who have devoted their lives to fighting for LGBTQ rights and we proudly acknowledge all that our community has contributed to the bright fabric of the world.

The Stonewall riots happened 47 years ago. In a spontaneous act of defiance against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York, LGBTQ folk had finally had enough and took to the streets in violent protests. This is widely considered the day the Gay Liberation movement was born.

Since Stonewall we have accomplished so much. Starting with the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which was overturned in June, 2013, the LGBTQ community has experienced great strides in equal rights. The Supreme Court Declared Same-Sex Marriage to be Legal In All 50 States almost a year ago this June. Most recently the transgender community has become more visible than ever before and is joining the march towards full equality.

Those who have lived through blatant discrimination and outright homophobia are still suffering the psychological effects of living in the terror of being found out. Many men and women who were outed, risked social ostracism and loss of employment. Gay and lesbian people have been out-casted by friends, abandoned by family, suffered humiliation and shame at the hands of bullies, been beaten and killed just for being who we are. From this oppression has grown activism, community, and the LGBT movement is now stronger than ever before. Through organization, poetry, music, political activism, social media and film making, gay and lesbian stories are being told all over the world. These stories are heartbreaking and triumphant and have helped to educate the rest of society to see LGBTQ people as what we are–human beings. Human beings who deserve to love who we wish to love, create families and to live with human dignity.

Today we want to honor the men and women who fought, marched, protested and contributed to the gay rights movement. But the fight is not over, this liberation movement will continue on until the LGBTQ community has equal rights in every state and every country throughout the world.

Here are just a few of our heroes and heroines.

  • Craig Rodwell founded the first bookstore devoted to gay and lesbian authors, The Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop

  • Laverne Cox is the first openly transgender person on the cover of Time magazine

  • Cell Rorex issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples back in 1975. She was a County Clerk in Colorado.

  • Bayard Rustin who in 1986, while speaking in support of New York’s gay rights bill, he observed, “The barometer of where one is on human rights questions is no longer the black community, it’s the gay community. Because it is the community which is most easily mistreated.”

  • Peter Tatchess: Cofounder of OutRage! In 2001 he tried to make a citizen’s arrest of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe for his denunciation of homosexuality.

  • Audre Lorde was a profound writer, poet, and equal rights activist.

  • Mary Daly: Author of ‘Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism’. She was a lesbian feminist philosopher who taught classes in feminist ethics, theology, and patriarchy at Boston College from 1967 to 1999.

  • Harvey Milk became the first openly gay man to serve in public office in California when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1978

  • Ellen DeGeneres was the first lesbian character to come out on national television

  • Richard Isay was a psychoanalyst, psychiatrist, and gay activist who is credited with changing the way psychoanalysts view homosexuality

  • Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon met in 1950 and were the first people married in San Francisco after the California Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was legal in 2008. Together in 1955, they helped form the Daughters of Bilitis, the first national lesbian organization in the US.

  • Sylvia Rivera was a bisexual transgender activist and trans woman who was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance

  • Leonard Matlovich was a Vietnam veteran and a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient. In 1975, he became the first service member to out himself to the military and fight their ban on gays.

  • Barbara Gittings was a prominent American activist for gay equality. She organized the New York chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis

  • Harry” Hay a founder of the Mattachine Society, the first sustained gay rights group in the United States

  • Chely Wright became one of the first major country music performers to publicly come out as lesbian

  • Melissa Etheridge–Singer, songwriter and iconic gay and lesbian activist since her public coming out in January 1993

  • Tammy Baldwin, Tammy is the first non-incumbent, openly gay person to serve in Congress

  • Gladys Bentley was a popular Blues singer during The Harlem Renaissance. Bentley dressed in her trademark tuxedo and top hat.

  • Rachel Maddow is perhaps the most powerful lesbian in the world of media, Maddow doesn’t shy away from acknowledging her sexuality and she regularly incorporates LGBT topics into her show.

  • Margarethe Cammermeyer is the highest ranking military official to come out while in the service. Prior to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” she challenged the military policy banning gays and won the right to serve.


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