Fifty years ago, on June 28, 1969, a popular gay hangout in New York City was raided by police. Many point to that incident as the birth of a movement. It was at the Stonewall Inn where the LGBT+ community had to hideout, for fear of discrimination. When the Inn was raided, they decided to fight back, inciting the ‘Stonewall Riots.’
Six months after the ‘Stonewall Uprising’, New York City’s first two gay activist groups were formed. Chris Wade with Central Illinois Friends recalls, “That was a period of time when folks who identified as being homosexual had to keep that under wraps. Had to basically be in cloaks, incognito, basically invisible to the community.”
Now, half a century later, cities all over the country are celebrating National Pride Month. Wade added, “Communities of color, LGBT communities all are fighting for civil rights. And I think the intersection of that is really looking at human rights, us as a people.”
Reverend Carole Hoke said that Stonewall was the spark that ignited a revolution. She explained, “The Stonewall Uprising was something that nobody ever expected. I think for us today those of us who have pride parades, pride celebrations, we can certainly credit those first few people who decided to say ‘No we’re not going to be treated this way.'”
Since 1969, Wade and Hoke are proud of how far they’ve come. “Gay and straight together, friends that are transgender, helping us to realize that the world is such a complex tapestry. A beautiful tapestry of all kinds of people. People that otherwise might not get to know one another,” explained Hoke.
However, there are still many hurdles that need to be jumped. Bloomington/Normal Transgender activist Brittany Clinard said, “We’re looking at problems with housing and shelter. The same goes for medical care. Access to medical care is huge and it’s something that everyone should be fighting. It’s not specific to the transgender community.”