Yesterday, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama held a reception at the White House in honor of the Stonewall riots of 1969 and the current Gay Rights Movement. At the event, he reaffirmed his commitment to equality and asked to be judged on promises kept rather than promises made.
“I know that many in this room don’t believe progress has come fast enough, and I understand that. It’s not for me to tell you to be patient any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African-Americans who were petitioning for equal rights a half-century ago. We’ve been in office six months now. I suspect that by the time this administration is over, I think you guys will have pretty good feelings about the Obama administration.”
At present, I think most LGBT Americans are discouraged at the President’s inaction thus far, but most still maintain hope for the promises we were given. At this point, only time will tell if we gain the rights we deserve and if President Obama keeps the promises that helped him to be elected.
Today, I visited the New York Public Library to see the exhibit:
Unfortunately, aside from the large banner hanging out front, the exhibit was a bit of a disappointment. It was only a small hallway display comprised of a few small cases, placards, and enlarged photographs from the movement in 1969.
I am glad the movement has gotten this exposure, and I am glad the NYPL wants to commemorate the gay rights movement…but I think this could have been better executed. This is a huge deal in politics and the movement is finally seeing a substantial acquisition of rights, so I just think the exhibit could have been more effective, larger, and possibly serving to connect 1969 and the Stonewall Riots to today.
On this day, in 1969, a small bar in the West Village of Manhattan became the epicentre of an event that changed the course of gay history.
The Stonewall Inn, like most gay bars of the time, was frequently the target of police intimidation and demands for payoffs in returns for not arresting or publishing names of the patrons.
But, on June 28, 1969, patrons of the Stonewall Inn became fed up and instead of complying with police, patrons resisted. They threw coins, bottles, and other bojects at police and fires were started.
These riots are commonly referred to as the first time in American history that gays and lesbians fought back against a government-sponsored persecution of homosexuals. These events have come to be recognized as beginning of the modern day gay rights movement not only here in the United States but across the globe.
In only a couple weeks, the gay residents in Greenwhich Village organized themselves into activist groups that worked to establish places for gays and lesbians to be open about their sexual orientation without fear of being arrested. The fight continues now, 40 years later…
Keep up the good fight, history favors those fighting for equality.
To help celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and the declaration of June 2009 as LGBT Pride month, the New York Public library has created an exhibition titled 1969: The Year of Gay Liberation.
The entire story can be found one 365 Gay by Cory Stottlemyer.