When it neared just about midnight on June 28th, 1969, New York City’s public morals squad, led by Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine, pulled up to the Stonewall Inn at 7th Avenue and Christopher Street in four unmarked police cars. Targeted due to drawing a crowd of drag queens, hustlers, and minors, the Stonewall Inn became the location of a historical revolution.
At this time in history, the vice squad routinely raided gay bars. Patrons always complied due to feelings of fright by the possibility of being identified in the newspaper. However, on this particular Friday night, things were different. Tired of being harassed by law enforcement, patrons resisted arrest. What began with a drag queen striking her arresting officer soon escalated into a full-fledged riot, and modern gay activism was born. This night ignited 50 years of activism, visibility, and increased civil rights for LGBTQ+ individuals.
The Stonewall OutLoud campaign is a comprehensive national effort to record and preserve the lived experiences and resilience of everyday LGBTQ+ people 50 years after the 1969 Stonewall riots. This June, Stonewall OutLoud is encouraging people all over the country to record their stories or others’ stories within the LGBTQ+ community. The 50th anniversary offers a unique opportunity to honor and listen to the stories of those who lived before the modern LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. Each of the recordings will become a permanent part of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress to be preserved for generations to listen and honor the elders of our recent past.
There are a handful of ways to participate in Stonewall OutLoud:
- You may be moved to record a story of your own or of an elder in your life
- Listen to and record stories with friends
- Host an event at a local senior center to record stories and listen to others
To host a Stonewall OutLoud event at the Madison Senior Center, contact Laura Hunt at LHunt@cityofmadison.com and please visit https://storycorps.org/discover/outloud/ for more information about the campaign, how to record your story, or to download a toolkit on hosting a Stonewall Outloud event.