Secrets wrap Stonewall in context of why it’s the uprising that stuck

Add this share

In the wee hours of June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, and fed-up patrons refused to budge. You knew that, but here are some stats you might not know that made this particular LGBTQ uprising the one that started a movement.

Youth Village

LGBT homeless youth were already a thing in 1969, especially in Christopher Park. For just $3 at Stonewall Inn, they could drink and stay warm and dry most of the night. They were in place to become part of the fray.

Places of Refuge

Despite targeting by police and others, queer bars like Stonewall Inn were still considered safe(r) places to be among like-hearted people, often the only places in someone’s life to do so. That's what many Stonewall veterans say was ultimately worth fighting for.

Judy, Judy, Judy

Folklore spins a tale that the June 22 death of original gay icon Judy Garland sparked the riots. Patrons were commiserating about it, but the police action was the catalyst.

Mob Mentality

People think of the mob outside after things went sideways. Police say a different mob, the New York Mafia that owned the bar, were the target of the raid.

Storm Brewing

Serving alcohol to “known homosexuals” and dancing with the same sex were illegal. More than 100 U.S. men a week were arrested in sex stings.


At least eight similar uprisings, riots and actions across the country – including a riot of trans women and queers of color at Compton’s Cafeteria in 1966 in San Francisco (photo) –took place in the years leading up to Stonewall. Three days of Christopher Street riots gave media time to latch onto the story and spread it nationwide.

Panty Raid

You’ve seen Stonewall protestors in a paddy wagon. Most were biological males not wearing one item of “male clothing” (often underwear), or females not wearing three articles of “female clothing” to prove they weren’t in drag.

Kick Line

In addition to throwing rocks and bottles, protestors formed an arm-in-arm phalanx and infuriated cops with a “Rockettes-style” song and dance.

Media Mayhem

Escalation of the event came as a crowd grew into throngs. Coverage in theVillage Voicewith anti-LGBTQ language brought even more angry people, as well as threats to burn down the newspaper’s offices.


A year later, marches across the U.S., including the first gay rights march down Peachtree Street in Atlanta, became the Pride parades today and the traditional last-Sunday-in-June commemorations.

Now take your queer history beyond Stonewall.

Source: Earlybird Books

This feature originally appeared in Q magazine. Read the full issue below, and pick up your hard copy around town.


This small-town Georgia official has been out and proud for 55 years

Hamilton, Ga., Mayor Pro Tem Ransom Farley was around 11 or 12 years old when his grandmother told him he was “special.” He realized what...

Calling trans men out of invisibility and into queer legend

When Q listed LGBTQ legends, transgender men who “most everyone knows and will remember forever” proved difficult to bring to mind. I consulted a trans male friend.

Tracking Atlanta’s trans murder cold cases through the decades

Metro Atlanta’s missing and murdered transgender and gender nonconforming victims are not forgotten. Thanks to a pair of forensic genealogists in Massachusetts, trans cold...

The best LGBTQ things to do in Atlanta this weekend

The perfect weather meets its match with local queer events as reasons to get out in it. Out on Film begins, plus AIDS Walk...

This small town in North Georgia loves its first LGBTQ mayor

When Liz Ordiales became the first openly LGBTQ mayor of Hiawassee in 2017, there was some resistance in the city of 900 people in...