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Today is the fortieth anniversary of the raid on the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in New York City.
At 1:20 on the morning of Saturday, June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a standard tactic at the time against gay bars. This time, instead of lining up quietly and showing ID (with men in drag and women who weren’t wearing at least three pieces of feminine apparel being arrested, for in those days cross-dressing was illegal), the patrons of the bar refused; a crowd gathered, turned violent, and the police had to be rescued by their Tactical Police Force.
Rioting continued for several days.
One year later, on 28 June 1970, America’s first Gay Pride march took place. Within two years there were open gay rights groups in pretty-much every major city.
In December 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the DSM.
Ten years before the Stonewall Riots, homosexual acts, even between consenting adults in private homes, were illegal in forty-nine states and the District of Columbia. (It became fifty states when Hawaii joined the Union in August of ‘59, back down to forty-nine when Illinois decriminalized sodomy in ‘61.) In those days homosexuals could be imprisoned for life in mental institutions. In seven states they could be castrated.
Now, things are different.