WASHINGTON - Last week, President Barack Obama designated the site of a 1969 riot between gays and New York City police a national monument.
"I’m designating the Stonewall National Monument as the newest addition to America’s national parks system. Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights," President Obama said.
"I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country – the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us. That we are stronger together. That out of many, we are one."
In response to the Stonewall rebellion, as some call it, the first gay pride parades were held on the last weekend in June in New York and other major U.S. cities, including Chicago.
One version of the story behind the newest national monument is told on Wikipedia this way:
Very few establishments welcomed openly gay people in the 1950s and 1960s. Those that did were often bars, although bar owners and managers were rarely gay. At the time, the Stonewall Inn was owned by the Mafia. It catered to an assortment of patrons and was known to be popular among the poorest and most marginalized people in the gay community: drag queens, transgender people, effeminate young men, butch lesbians, male prostitutes, and homeless youth. Police raids on gay bars were routine in the 1960s, but officers quickly lost control of the situation at the Stonewall Inn. They attracted a crowd that was incited to riot. Tensions between New York City police and gay residents of Greenwich Village erupted into more protests the next evening, and again several nights later. Within weeks, Village residents quickly organized into activist groups to concentrate efforts on establishing places for gays and lesbians to be open about their sexual orientation without fear of being arrested.
The following was produced by the White House: