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Radio documentary to revisit the riots that triggered the gay revolution

Nell Frizzell June 16, 2009
Marsha Johnson was instrumental in the 1969 Stonewall riots

The beginning of the Stonewall riots

Forty years ago, a blaze of gay protest broke out outside the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich, New York. A police raid on the bar erupted in to the three-night riot that is considered by many to have been the starting point of the gay liberation movement.

Tom Robinson, the songwriter behind hits like ‘Glad to be Gay’ revisits the Stonewall Inn in the BBC’s first in-depth documentary about the event.

The documentary, to be aired on June 30th on Radio 2, includes interviews with demonstrators, journalists and police officers as well as previously unheard archive recordings of activists Craig Rodwell and Barbara Gittings.

“Stonewall is the first BBC in-depth documentary into the Stonewall Riots and delivers a remarkable look back at one of the most revolutionary moments in modern history,” said Lewis Carnie, head of programmes for Radio 2 and Radio 6 music.

It is often argued that the violence of the Stonewall riots spurred the international gay community into action, with the International Gay Liberation Movement becoming established just a month later.

However, Robinson’s documentary looks at the context of those riots, and re-addresses the legend and legacy of the event, from the declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness in 1972, to the continuing resistance to same sex marriage.

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