The events of the early morning of 28 June 1969 (known as The Stonewall Riots or the Stonewall Rebellion) were not the first instances of gays fighting back against police in New York City and elsewhere. Something special happened on that night in 1969, but it’s more complex than saying it all started with Stonewall.
While the community has always included all LGBT people, the one-word unifying term in the 1950s through the early 1980s was gay. Later (’70s/80s) this was expanded by many groups to lesbian and gay, then by the ’90s and ’00s to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT). Also by the late eighties and early nineties, queer began to be reclaimed as a one-word alternative to the ever-lengthening string of initials, especially when used by radical political groups.
The New York Times of 29 June reported as follows:
“4 Policemen Hurt in “Village’ Raid
Melee Near Sheridan Square Follows Action at Bar
Hundreds of young men went on a rampage in Greenwich Village shortly after 3am yesterday after a force of plain-clothes men raided a bar that the police said was well-known for its homosexual clientele. Thirteen persons were arrested and four policemen injured.
The young men threw bricks, bottles, garbage, pennies and a parking meter at the policemen, who had a search warrant authorising them to investigate reports that liquor was sold illegally at the bar, the Stonewall Inn, 53 Christopher Street, just off Sheridan Square.
Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine said that a large crowd formed in the square after being evicted from the bar. Police reinforcements were sent to the area to hold off the crowd.
Plainclothes men and detectives confiscated cases of liquor from the bar, which Inspector Pine said was operating without a liquor licence.
The police estimated that 200 young men had been expelled from the bar. The crowd grew to close to 400 during the melee, which lasted about 45 minutes, they said.
Arrested in the melee, was Dave Van Ronk, 33 years old, of 15 Sheridan Square, a well-known folk singer. He was accused of having thrown a heavy object at a patrolman and later paroled in his own recognisance.
The raid was one of three held on Village bars in the last two weeks, Inspector Pine said.
Charges against the 13 who were arrested ranged from harassment and resisting arrest to disorderly conduct. A patrolman suffered a broken wrist, the police said.
Throngs of young men congregated outside the inn last night, reading aloud condemnations of the police.
A sign on the door said, “This is a private club. Members only.” Only soft drinks were being served.”
The sign left by police following the raid is now on display just inside the entrance.
Kelly Holmes, the two-time gold medal-winning Olympic champion, has told the world she is gay after keeping her sexuality private for over 30 years.
Dame Kelly, now 52, said she realised she was gay at the age of 17 after kissing a fellow female soldier, and that her family and friends have known since 1997. She has spoken out during Pride Month and ahead of a documentary about her experiences called Being Me, where she talks to LGBT+ soldiers about their lives in the military now.
Maybelle Blair comes out at 95
Maybelle “Mae” Blair, 95, recently came out publicly for the first time during the Tribeca Festival premiere of the Amazon Studios series “A League of Their Own.” She was a member of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League that the 1992 film and the new series are based.
At a panel discussion, Blair — also known as “All The Way Mae” — said she was happy to see players not having to hide their sexual orientation any longer and the acceptance found in the sport.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for these young girl ball players to come (to) realise that they’re not alone, and you don’t have to hide,” Blair shared. “I hid for 75, 85 years and this is actually basically the first time I’ve ever come out.”
Maybelle Blair pitched for the Peoria Redwings in 1948. She then went on to play for the National Women’s Softball League in Chicago during the 1950s. Blair has spoken across the US in support of women’s baseball and has appeared on national morning shows and has been honoured at various baseball stadiums.
“A League of Their Own” premieres on Amazon Prime on 12 August