American Experience: Stonewall Uprising

Mon, 06/03/2013 - 8:30pm

Photo: N.Y.P.D. raid

Credit: Courtesy of Daily News

When gay bar Stonewall Inn was raided in 1969, gay men and women did something they had not done before: they fought back.

In 1969, homosexual acts were illegal in every state except Illinois and gays frequently found themselves being hauled off to jail, their names splashed in the next day’s newspaper. Even in Greenwich Village, where thousands of gay people moved to escape the constant oppression of their hometowns, patrons of gay bars were accustomed to frequent police harassment. But on June 28, 1969, the gay community experienced what one Village Voice reporter who was on the scene called its "Rosa Parks moment," when the N.Y.P.D. raided a Mafia-run gay bar, the Stonewall Inn. For the first time ever, patrons refuse to be led into paddy wagons, setting off a violent three-day uprising that launched the gay rights movement. Stonewall Uprising, an American Experience film airs on WXXI World Monday, June 3 at 8:30 p.m.