The typically passed on from parents to their

The Stonewall Riot on June 28, 1969 marked the
beginning of the modern gay liberation movement in the United States. After the
riot, activists and organizations worked together in a militant manner more
than in previous decades to gain Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT)
rights in the United States. Across the country, the LBGT community used
Stonewall as a foundation to remind society about gay resistance and the need
for equality. As the LBGT community struggled for equal rights, they also
sought to understand their past and identity. The social and political climate prior
to Stonewall caused many to keep their sexuality inward and also prevented a
written record or the creation of an identifiable LBGT past. Therefore,
academics and nonacademics worked to reveal a past largely hidden from history.
They employed public history techniques to create archives and urban
preservation projects to save their tangible past. This thesis identifies how
the creation of these movements where sparked by outrage and increased
comradery post stonewall riots, in turn leading to a unified coalition to
better LGBT life in the states. Stonewall was a decisive moment in LGBT history
and remains a significant influencer in modern society.

            In many ways the homosexual
experience in America is inherently different from that of any other minority
group. Unlike with ethnic groups, lesbian and gay identity is not typically
passed on from parents to their children. As such the perpetuation of
homosexual history and identity is typical only later in life. Where racial and
ethnic groups may learn strategies for resisting racism from a young age, lesbians
and gay men must learn to navigate heterosexism and repressive society on their
own, usually until their coming of age. In addition, since homosexuality is
spread across ethnic, racial, and class lines the creation of a singular queer
identity is nearly impossible. Despite all this lesbians and gay men have
clearly organized on the basis of their sexual identity throughout modern American
history. The sparks of the LGBT rights wave is seeded deep in the repressive,
homophobic period of the 1950’s and early 60’s. The LGBT movements spiritual
predecessor, the homophile movement of the 1950’s came about during a time that
organized political and social activity by homosexuals was extremely unlikely. The
mid twentieth century was not a welcoming time for LGBT Americans. Strings of
laws specifically targeted homosexuals to ensure police the power to abuse and
defile any attempt by homosexuals to lead a normal life. For instance,
solicitation of homosexual relations was illegal in New York, as well as in the
rest of the country, as sodomy laws asserted the relations between two men or
two women was inherently unnatural and thus was seen as a case of nonconsensual
assault. Case like that of People v. Williams and
Krause were common place, in
which two men would be arrested under sodomy laws and prosecuted. The indictments
would then be worded to suggest that the case involved each male assaulting one
another. In 1923 a supplemental law to the sodomy law was enacted in the state
of New York which made it illegal to frequent or loiter in any public place
soliciting men for the purpose of committing a crime against nature and similar
lewdness. Furthermore, criminal statutes in New York allowed police to arrest
people wearing less than three articles of gender appropriate clothing. Additionally,
the New York State Liquor Authority penalized and shut down establishments that
served alcohol to known or suspected LGBT individuals, stating that the mere gathering
of homosexuals was disorderly. Other laws made it illegal to engage in certain
homosexual behavior in public, such as: kissing, holding hands, or dancing with
someone of the same sex. Police raids of known homosexual bars or clubs were
also common place. President Eisenhower himself banned the employment of gay
men and women within the federal government and government contractors, and
ordered for the purge of gay men within the military. Despite all this, or
perhaps in spite of it, homophile organizations gained much traction in the
1950’s. The Mattachine Society formed by Henry Hay in 1950 comprised the first recognized
gay rights organization. Proponents worked towards gay equality and visibility
within American society through activist manifestations and protests. The
Society distributed flyers, combatted entrapment, and published ONE, a magazine
revolving around the American homosexual identity. Then in 1955 the Daughters
of Bilitis formed as a social club to provide lesbian women a place to socialize
without inhibitions and aimed to minimize the boundaries between lesbians and
heterosexual women. These groups pioneered LGBT activism, and although their
contributions were great their accomplishments for the gay community were
minimal. The political and social climate in the post war era suppressed the
homosexual community’s ability to address gay rights. Historian Martin Duberman
suggests that members were not ready to insist that homosexuality was neither
abnormal nor unnatural, which prevented them from rallying. This dilemma stems
from the lack of a physical demarcation of homosexuality. Unlike other minority
groups, in which most all members shared a common classifiable trait such as
skin color or religion, the homosexual community had no common trait other than
being homosexual. This meant that deception was easily employed as most
homosexual men and women could ‘pass’ for heterosexuals thus subverting the
prejudice that their identity entailed. The homophobic climate in the U.S.
inhibited homosexuals from creating a place in society so they were forced to
congregate in secret, usually within mafia owned bars that paid of local police
precincts to avoid raids or require an alcohol license. These bars and inns were
prevalent in poorer districts of New York such as Greenwich Village

            The Stonewall Inn was a cheap straight
bar and restaurant located in the heart of Greenwich Village. In 1996 the
Genovese crime family, who controlled most gay pandering bars in the area, purchased
and renovated the rundown bar to cater to shunned gay clientele. The Stonewall
Inn quickly became a staple of Greenwich Village. The bar was spacious and cheap
to enter, as well as welcoming to drag queens who were heavily looked down upon
even within the LGBT community. It also allowed for dancing, which had become a
rarity in such establishments. The culmination of all these factors made the
bar exceptionally popular within the community, however it also drew attention
from New York’s Sixth Police Precinct which served jurisdiction over the area.
Police raids occurred frequently, still corrupt cops would normally warn bar
owners prior to raid thus allowing owners to stash the alcohol and hide any
other illegal activity. Though this was not the case the morning of June 28th,
police officers raided the bar and arrested thirteen individuals, among them
bar employees and those that did not conform to the states gender appropriate clothing
laws. Bar patrons manifested outside as the 13 were led into police vans