In 1969, what had been planned as a simple raid on a New York night-club that was violating its liquor license turned into a neighborhood-wide riot as police were attacked by locals angered at the treatment of the night-club's homosexual patrons.
Stonewall Inn Riot
by Robbie TaylorThe raiding policemen were shut up in the Stonewall Inn by the riot, and they desperately radioed for assistance. When riot police arrived, a few hotheads in the crowd began setting fire to buildings, including the Stonewall Inn, itself. With fires raging all around them, the riot police were unable to contain the situation, and withdrew. Fire trucks were allowed in to put out the blazes, but police were repelled when they attempted to follow the fire fighters into the community to restore order. This chaos continued for almost three days while the nation watched, and homosexuals across America became galvanized into action. When the New York cops finally put the riot down, 43 people were dead, over 300 were injured, and the nation saw for the first time that "Gays", as they now referred to themselves, would no longer take the abuse they had been dealt in the past.
The Stonewall Organization, dedicated to civil rights for homosexuals, was founded on the ashes of the night-club, and won their first major victory that year, as New York City voted to recognize the civil rights of homosexuals and decriminalize homosexuality. A storm of outrage from conservatives and fundamentalist Christians across America greeted this progressive move, but the Stonewall Organization was just getting started.
In spite of many cultural battles over the '70's and '80's, homosexual rights won acceptance from the mainstream culture, and the Stonewall Act of 1987, signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, a one-time opponent, granted homosexuals full citizenship for the first time in American history.