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Feature: How the Stonewall riots started the LGBT rights movement

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  1. Yet another article which glazes over the fact that trans women were also important in the riots.

    1. Indeed, which is why it is so messsed up that Stonewall UK feels it is ok to name itself after this event and yet engage in ciswashing and nominating transphobes for awards?

  2. “The crowd, which was made up of all shades of the LGBT community, flocked to Christopher Street to take part in this revolutionary act of defiance.”

    That’s interesting. The way I heard it in the early 80′s. the crowd was mostly made up of leather men, drag queens, trans men and trans women, diesel dykes – the people who had a harder time passing and thus were often poorer. All of the tony, wealthier, straight acting gays were safely in places like Fire Island. Why is that history being respun now?

  3. Let’s not overlook the influence of World War II. Mother Jones did an excellent article on this years ago. Because of the huge draft for the war effort, a lot of LGBT people living in isolated places suddenly found themselves among a multitude of others just like themselves.

  4. Common sense 28 Jun 2013, 10:02pm

    Er the stonewall riots may have kick started the US campaign but globally , the gay rights movement was STARTED by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs in Germany. He was the first theorist to articulate the gay identity in print and advocate for law reform. I would have said the real first date for worldwide gay rights should be August 29, 1867 – the day he publicly spoke at the congress of German jurists in Munich, openly calling for law reform as an out gay man.

    His writings had huge influence in Germany and beyond and I hazard that without him it would have been many many years before gay rights could have launched.

    It is extremely sad that people forget him and his pioneering work and instead look towards a riot in New York a century later as the “beginning” of gay rights.

    1. Cherry Valley 29 Jun 2013, 9:21am

      I have never heard of this man you speak of, I dont want to make seem as i am offending you or his legacy. But the ‘beginning” as you quoted of something especially gay rights is when it is known by many or starts a culture shift from sates to states or even better reaching out to many other countries. Its not really about who did it first or when, its when its over that will be the best part of when the struggle “ended”of our gay civil rights story.

    2. Common sense 29 Jun 2013, 12:45pm

      You can read about him here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Heinrich_Ulrichs

      He really was an extraordinary man. But the fact that he and the later Magnus Hirschfeldt were German meant that they are unknown largely in the English speaking world because the point when gay rights started getting going in the UK and USA (1950s) was also a time when things that came out of Germany were not at all popular.

      However in the German speaking world he is greatly revered and in many cities there are streets named after him. At the Karl Heinrich Ulrichs Platz in Munich there is an annual gay festival that is utterly charming.

      Ulrichs was visited in the 1890s by the English writer John Addington Symmonds who then published his theories in English in the hugely influential private publication “A Problem in Modern Ethics” which was read widely in gay UK and USA

      You can read some of Ulrichs works and bit more biography here:

      http://www.angelfire.com/fl3/uraniamanuscripts/

    3. Common sense 29 Jun 2013, 12:46pm

      You can read about him here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Heinrich_Ulrichs

      He really was an extraordinary man. But the fact that he and the later Magnus Hirschfeldt were German meant that they are unknown largely in the English speaking world because the point when gay rights started getting going in the UK and USA (1950s) was also a time when things that came out of Germany were not at all popular.

      However in the German speaking world he is greatly revered and in many cities there are streets named after him. At the Karl Heinrich Ulrichs Platz in Munich there is an annual gay festival that is utterly charming.

      Ulrichs was visited in the 1890s by the English writer John Addington Symmonds who then published his theories in English in the hugely influential private publication “A Problem in Modern Ethics” which was read widely in gay UK and USA

      You can read some of Ulrichs works and bit more biography here:

      http://www.angelfire.com/fl3/uraniamanuscripts/

  5. They should have also mentioned that this all happened just after Judy Garland’s funeral. Some say this was one of the major factors why people were tired of be harassed, some say not. Either way, it’s pretty likely that the death of a major gay icon had at least some impact on this event.

    1. this is David Carter’s argument against : Only text from 1969 to make that connection was by a homophobe sacrastically making fun of the rebellion. The (gay) author of a column from Mattachine Newsletter, devoted to the riot, makes no connection, though his gossip column was usually about celebrities, he followed both the world of famous people, and gay politics. He’d be the perfect person to know of any influence, yet he mentions her death along with 6 other events, without putting the two in a common context. Another text from Esquire, by a friendly straight person again does the same.

      Further, many key actors in the rebellion were transexual, transvestite and gay kids on the streets, living there or spending most their time there. These listened to rock, soul, not the generation Garland was from. Vito Russo, fan and witness, explicitly denies any connection. Further there are clear immediate unrelated reasons.

      Her death is rather seen as a symbol of the end of the old gay world

  6. I would question the expertise of the historical analysis in this article. US soldiers experienced the freedoms of war mobilisation in the 40s in Britain, and kick started our own move towards equality. Vietnam brought nothing new to the table.
    The 60s were the sight of growing malcontent towards social conditions anyway. The gay liberation movement was not just a product of America, and class is far more heavily involved than would be suggested here.
    But I think it would be unfair of me to write a comment like this with no supporting evidence, so I promise that I shall write my own response in the next few days.

    1. E. Carpenter 12 Jul 2013, 6:02am

      There had been a small and growing gay rights and lesbian rights movement in the U.S. and in New York since the late 1940s. Stonewall was one event in a long series of events.

      Stonewall was not, contrary to myth, seen as a turning-point event by most gay people at the time – even gay activists. But when existing gay groups in various cities, over the winter of 1969/1970, tried to come up with a common rallying event for some kind of national gay action day, a day for marching and political organizing, the Stonewall riots won – mainly because the date was at the end of June, a good time for outdoor events in the U.S..

      So Stonewall became a great symbol of the fight for freedom well after the fact, and as a deliberate decision by activists. It’s true influence came from the marches, rallies etc that used it as a symbol. The myth is much less interesting than the real story, but the myth has been useful in propelling gay and lesbian (and later B T and Q rights) forward.

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