The legacy of Stonewall: Stories of resistance and resilience

“There was a price we paid to open our mouths.” Decades after the LGBTQ movement’s riotous spark, its most marginalized members speak out.

Robert Waldron, 79, (left) with his husband Vernon May, 79

"The LGBT community has come a very, very long way. There’s still boundaries, but, right now, we should be satisfied and thankful for how far we have come.“

Early on June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, arresting employees for serving liquor without a license and patrons for failing to wear at least three articles of clothing appropriate to their supposed gender.

Raids on gay bars were common and legal. But that night, the young trans and queer people who took refuge at Stonewall fought the arrests, sparking five days of riots and a national LGBTQ civil rights movement.

(How the Stonewall uprising ignited the modern LGBTQ rights movement.)

One year later, the events at Stonewall were commemorated with what is now known as the first gay pride march—Christopher Street Liberation Day in New York City. Today, it is remembered with parades held in cities around the world.

Why was Stonewall so pivotal to the LGBTQ rights movement? We spoke to members of LGBTQ communities in the United States and asked them to share their stories and experiences.

Life as an LGBTQ senior

More than 50 years after Stonewall, those who led the fight for civil rights are facing new challenges. In the photographs and videos below, they share their perspectives on the importance of knowing the history of the movement—as well as their pervasive sense of loneliness as they age. 

Challenges of being a transgender person of color

Despite having been at the vanguard of the LGBTQ rights movement, these transgender people of color say they're still pushing for the most basic of rights—from the right not to be discriminated against at work to the right to walk safely down the street.

When home isn't an option

Despite growing acceptance and celebration of the LGBTQ community, many young people tell stories of being kicked out of their homes and being left to fend for themselves on the streets or in homeless shelters where they fear for their safety.

Photographer Robin Hammond has spent his career documenting human rights issues. His project, “Where Love is Illegal,” takes an in-depth look at abuse and intolerance faced by LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex) people with the mission of ending persecution based on sexuality and gender identity.

 

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