President Obama has today officially awarded National Monument status to New York’s historic Stonewall Inn – the most iconic gay bar in the world.
The Stonewall riots were sparked in 1969 to protest police brutality and crackdowns on gay people after repeated NYPD raids of the bar.
Some of the first Pride marches began on the anniversary of the riots in 1970, and in many countries Prides are still often known as ‘Christopher Street Day’ Parades in honour of the pub’s location.
The Stonewall Inn won New York landmark status last year, but today President Obama has gone further by declaring the bar a National Monument.
In a powerful video, the President said: “Back in 1969, as a turbulent decade was winding down the Stonewall Inn was a popular gathering place for New York City’s LGBT community.
“One night, police raided the bar and started arresting folks. Raids like these were nothing new, but this time the patrons had had enough.
“The stood up and spoke out. Riots became protests. The protests became a movement. The movement ultimately became an integral part of America
“This week I’m designating the Stonewall National Monument as the newest addition to America’s National Park System.
“Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights.
“I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country, the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us.
“That we are stronger together. That out of many, we are one.”
It is the first time the status has been awarded to an LGBT venue. PinkNews understands the plans were made before the massacre in Orlando, but are even more poignant given the killings at Pulse.
In his speech after the Orlando massacre, the President had spoken about the “sanctuary” provided by LGBT venues.
He said: “For so many people here who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, the Pulse Nightclub has always been a safe haven, a place to sing and dance, and most importantly, to be who you truly are — including for so many people whose families are originally from Puerto Rico. Sunday morning, that sanctuary was violated in the worst way imaginable.
“So whatever the motivations of the killer, whatever influences led him down the path of violence and terror, whatever propaganda he was consuming from ISIL and al Qaeda, this was an act of terrorism but it was also an act of hate.
“This was an attack on the LGBT community. Americans were targeted because we’re a country that has learned to welcome everyone, no matter who you are or who you love.
“And hatred towards people because of sexual orientation, regardless of where it comes from, is a betrayal of what’s best in us.”
HRC President Chad Griffin said: “The Stonewall National Monument will pay tribute to the brave individuals who stood up to oppression and helped ignite a fire in a movement to end unfair and unjust discrimination against LGBTQ people.
“The announcement is especially significant following the horrific massacre in Orlando, a heartbreaking reminder of the hate and violence we continue to face as a community.
“In the early days of our movement, the brave individuals who fought back at Stonewall and at other historic moments, helped inspire countless others.
“It is our hope that by honouring these pioneers, this new national monument will be a source of inspiration to a new generation of Americans across the country standing up for equality and uniting to show the world that love conquers hate.
“We are incredibly grateful for President Obama’s leadership in recognising the LGBTQ community’s contributions to our nation’s march towards liberty and justice for all.”