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Essay on How Did The Stonewall Riots Affect The Gay Rights Movement?

In the summer of 1969, Greenwich Village in New York erupted into protest against police raids on gay bars and establishments. The protests began with the raiding of the popular establishment The Stonewall Inn. The Stonewall riots proved pivotal in the gay rights movement, as the Sixties and Seventies marked the rise of queers rights activist groups that fought for equality through political means. However, the growing queer community was still seen as relatively docile and non-violent until the riots began, at which point the community began protesting with “uncharacteristic fury and outrage”.

Foremost, The protests dramatically changed the depiction of the queer community in the media. Additionally, they kickstarted the rise of significant advancement for the cause of gay rights. Finally, the protests contributed widely to the birth of what became the modern pride movement. Overall, the events and Stonewall had a profound and dramatic influence on the gay rights movement in such ways that created a net positive impact on the lives of the queer community in the years following the protests.

In the years surrounding the Stonewall riots, America was undergoing revolutionary changes in the form of media coverage and access to news. Mediums such as television and radio were popularized, and there was an increase in the amount of media being produced. This provided ample assistance towards the gay rights movement, as it became harder to ignore the movement due to a widespread increase in coverage. Stonewall especially, acted as a catalyst for the increase in attention towards the LGBT community. It therefore became impossible to ignore the existence of the queer population in America.

Stonewall was inarguably one of the largest amalgamations of queer protestors that the media had ever covered which is cause to attribute the success in sparking evolution after the riots. There were over 1000 protesters over the course of a three day period. This mass response to the actions of the police demanded the attention of every media outlet. Moreover, the riots were observed by a significant portion of the youth of America, One individual noted that the riots were “the first mention of other homosexual people who were not criminals”.

Furthermore, the coverage began with the typical vilification of homosexuals, but quickly began to vary in perspective as the riots grew in popularity. The New York Times in particular, took a more liberal tone with their coverage by ttempting to discern the causes of the riots, rather than reverting to negative coverage. Quickly following, New distributors such as The Village began to rise in viewership as well. Finally, there were even reports that (rightfully) accused the police of lying about arrest counts and search terms.

The Stonewall riots differed from those in the past because the rioters “were no longer the invisible, passive, and fragile”. Which, paired with increased media coverage created dissent amongst the American population that proved to be a driving factor for change. While the gay rights movement certainly did not begin entirely ith the Stonewall riots, the riots did provoke a acceleration in the progress made towards equality. In the immediate years after Stonewall, evidence of the events repercussions became evident. Prior to the riots, the foremost organization fighting for gay rights was the Mattachine Society founded by Harry Hay.

The society focused largely on progress through law and political activism, which meant that any battles fought were hard won and often lost. Overall, the society did not have a notably large 2 OF 5 0:21 How Did The Stonewall Riots Affect The G… impact on the movement, and by 1969 the queer community anted more to be done. However, in response to the riots there was an increase in active queer rights organizations. Within months there were two New York based organizations, and one in almost every major city within a matter of years.

Pre- Stonewall there were around 50 to 60 activist groups. A number that rose to 1500 within two years. Furthermore, there were also developments in the psychological approach to homosexuality, as in 1973 it was removed from the list of mental disorders, which can likely be attributed to an increase in awareness about the existence of queer people. This signified hat the actual perception of homosexuality was rapidly changing. Additionally, the seventies became a time of growth for the LGBT community, as it became gradually less risky to be openly gay.

Stonewall became a testament to the changing notion of equality, and “The LGBT community used stonewall as a foundation to remind society about gay resistance and the need for equality”. By and large, the 50s and 60s in America were relatively static periods for gay rights, with only minor policy based advancements being made. The Stonewall riots effectively drove the gay rights movement into an era of progress. Perhaps one of the most telling shifts in the gay rights movement was the introduction of a “Pride” movement that aimed to celebrated the queer community rather that just vy for equality.

The introduction of what would come to be the modern pride movement began at the Stonewall riots, as the nature of the riots were inherently different from riots of the past and thus produced entirely different repercussions. As previously mentioned the riots at Stonewall were unparalleled in nature. The riots represented a shift from previous peaceful attitudes to those of “uncharacteristic fury and anger”, which aired with the thousands of participants created a movement that the United States had never before seen the likes of.

This fueled widespread revolution and an increase in confidence within the community that would define the gay rights movement for the years to come. The riots “shifted the demand for gay rights from the passive homophile action [like Mattachine and the DOB] to more radical actions, wherein a new commitment to gay rights formed”. This commitment quickly translated into the creation of the pride movement, which then went on to become the face of the gay rights movement. Secondly, in correspondence with the riots, ubsequent pride marched were started on the yearly anniversary of the riots.

The first marches began in June of 1970 in cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. For the first time in history, the experienced of the queer community were no longer discussed in hushed tones and in political settings, these experiences were now being heard loud and clear across the country. Finally, The Stonewall riots radically changed the culture of the LGBT community, and the ideals for which queer individuals were perceived to stand for.

As a symbol “the Stonewall Inn remained synonymous with gay resistance to ppression and was central in the iconography of lesbian and gay awareness. . In essence, the riots witness the birth of a in modern gay rights movement, and became the basis on which LGBT culture and identity is based. In conclusion, The 1969 Stonewall riots drove the latter half of the 20th century in to an era of increased development in the fight for gay rights. In short, The Stonewall riots created dissent amongst the american people through media, as well as acting as a catalyst for definitive progress and finally, the riots represented an important cultural shift that eventually ranslated into the modern pride movement.

However, regardless collection of violent uprisings that plagued the LGBT community for years to come, and the post-Stonewall depictions of the riots the successes of the riots, they were still a often glossed over its roots within the transgender community with activists such as Sylvia Rae Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. This is identifiable as a trend within American culture, through movies, tv and other media outlets. The greatest challenge moving forward will be to deconstruct the preconceived notions about the roots LGBT community and their fight for equality.

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