But that night, the patrons did something that would change history.
They fought back.
In the 1950s and 1960s, very few establishments welcomed openly gay people, and those that did were often bars, although bar owners and managers were rarely gay themselves. The Stonewall Inn, at the time, was owned by the Mafia. It catered to an assortment of patrons, but it was known for being popular with the poorest and most marginalized people in the gay community: drag queens, representatives of a newly self-aware transgender community, effeminate young men, male prostitutes, and homeless youth.
“Well first of all, it was all about location. I mean, it was like right on Christopher Street, and you could do slow dancing there. It was the only place where you could do slow dancing, and it was like a real bar. And our peers were all in there.” - Martin Boyce
It’s the early hours of June 28, 1969 when a routine police raid on The Stonewall Inn, a popular underground gay bar in Greenwich Village, sparks a full-scale riot. Police raids on gay bars were routine in the 1960s, but officers quickly lost control of the situation at the Stonewall Inn. Tensions between police and LGBTQ community members of Greenwich Village erupted into more protests the next evening, and again several nights later. Violent protests and street demonstrations continued for the next several days in what became known as The Stonewall Riots, thrusting a group of unlikely revolutionaries onto the frontlines of history and igniting one of the most influential social and political movements of the 20th Century.
Prior to the riots, in 1965 there had been a large number of small, non-violent protests in local bars and nightclubs around the city to protest a law to prevent “any more than three homosexuals” to be allowed into a bar, or nightclub, at any time. Not too much later,