Sociology Index

STONEWALL INN - Gay Activism and Gay Rights Movement

Queer Culture, Sociology of Sexualities, Homophobia

Stonewall Riots at the Stonewall Inn marked the beginning of resistance against intolerance towards people oriented differently. The Stonewall Inn is a gay bar and recreational tavern in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, New York. The Stonewall Inn was the site of the Stonewall riots of 1969. The Stonewall Inn Riots is considered to be an event that led to the gay liberation movement.

On a weekend in June 1969 the New York police, continuing a policy of harassment of homosexuals, visited the Stonewall Inn, charging that liquor was being sold without a permit. As the homosexual clientele were being taken to the police wagon from the Stonewall Inn, a spontaneous show of resistance emerged and the police were forced to retreat and call for reinforcements. This resistance that began at Stonewall Inn is now given substantial symbolic value and is seen as the birth of the modern gay rights movement, the emergence of the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activist Alliance, as well as the first gay pride parade, held in June 1970.

Stonewall Inn was originally called Bonnie's Stonewall Inn. The name was later changed to Stonewall Inn Restaurant. Stonewall Inn remained a restaurant until it was gutted by a fire. In 1966, members of the Mafia invested in the Stonewall Inn, turning it into a gay bar, after it had been a nightclub for heterosexuals. Stonewall Inn was the largest gay establishment in the U.S. and was very favorable with the lesbian and gay population because of its intimate dance policy.