Skip to Main Content

LGBTQIA+ Studies: A Resource Guide

1969: The Stonewall Uprising

June 28, 1969 marks the beginning of the Stonewall Uprising, a series of events between police and LGBTQ+ protesters which stretched over six days. It was not the first time police raided a gay bar, and it was not the first time LGBTQ+ people fought back, but the events that would unfold over the next six days would fundamentally change the discourse surrounding LGBTQ+ activism in the United States. While Stonewall became well known due to the media coverage and the subsequent annual Pride traditions, it was a culmination of years of LGBTQ+ activism. Historians have noted that the shift in activism, if Stonewall truly represented one at all, was a shift primarily for white cisgender people, as people of color and gender non-conforming people never truly had the benefit of concealing their marginalized identities.

While the events of Stonewall are often referred to as "riots," Stonewall veterans have explicitly stated that they prefer the term Stonewall uprising or rebellion. The reference to these events as riots was initially used by police to justify their use of force. 

"The rebellion (it was never a 'riot') lasted five inconsecutive nights (they were not 'riots')..." -STONEWALL Veterans' Association

It is important to note that there were a number of uprisings against police & state brutality, harassment and entrapment of the LGBT+ communities in the U.S. in the years before Stonewall. These events and the people involved have not received as much historical attention as Stonewall, but are just as central to understandings of U.S. LGBTQIA+ histories. Some of the pre-Stonewall uprisings included: 

  • Pepper Hill Club Raid, Baltimore, Maryland in 1955. Over 162 people arrested.
  • Hazel's (Hazel's Inn), Sharp Park, California February 1956
  • Coopers Do-Nut Raid, Los Angeles, California, 1959
  • Black Nite Brawl, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, August 5, 1961
  • Compton's Cafeteria Raid, San Francisco, California, 1966
  • Black Cat Raid, Los Angeles, California, 1967

There have been many incidents in which police interaction with LGBTQ+ communities has resulted in violence, and in response, protest. Bars were one of the few places LBGTQ+ people could gather in public, and these spaces were frequently raided throughout the 1950s-1970s. It is important to note that in addition to arresting LGBTQ+ people, first-hand accounts reveal the violence that police enacted on those they had arrested. Often, those who had survived police raids were hospitalized or had to seek medical care for their injuries. Notably, an uncounted number of LGBTQ+ people have died as a result of police raids on gay spaces. Police violence and bar raids did not end after Stonewall. One poignant example is the murder of Frederick Wiliam Paez on the 11th anniversary of Stonewall (June 28 1980) who was shot by a police officer who had solicited him.

To find additional materials on this topic, search the Library of Congress Online Catalog:

The subscription resources marked with a padlock are available to researchers on-site at the Library of Congress. If you are unable to visit the Library, you may be able to access these resources through your local public or academic library.

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.

The Stonewall Era: 1966-1969

The "Stonewall Era" corresponds with the opening of the Stonewall in January 1966 until it closed in December 1969.

By 1969, the Stonewall Inn (now a national monument) was one of the most popular gay bars in New York City.Throughout the state, homosexuality was considered a criminal offense, and it would take over a decade of organizing before "same-sex relationships" were legalized in 1980 (New York v. Onofre). The criminalization of homosexuality led many gay establishments to operate sans liquor license, providing an open door for raids and police brutality. Like many gay establishments at the time, the Stonewall Inn was owned by the mafia, and as long as they continued to make a profit, they cared very little what happened to their clientele. Because the owners were still making a profit, they simply adjusted to the raids, and were often tipped off about them ahead of time.The Stonewall was raided on average once a month leading up to the raid on June 28, 1969 (Martin Duberman,Stonewall p. 187), and had been raided once already that same week. The Stonewall was also not the only bar in town being frequently raided. “… In the last three weeks five gay bars in the Village area that I know of have been hit by the police” (The Summer of Gay Power and the Village Voice Exposed, COME OUT, 1969). Police raids and harassment were a common occurrence across the U.S. during this time, and amid the growing political activism of the 1960s,LGBTQ+ people began to mobilize and fight back.

Use the following subject browses to find materials on the Stonewall Uprising in the Library of Congress Online Catalog:

External Resources

First Pride March: 1970

Map for Pride Power ’94, a 10 Day Festival of Pride & Spirit. 1994. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

June 2020 marked the 50th anniversary of annual LGBTQ+ Pride traditions in the United States

The first Pride march in New York City was held on June 28, 1970 on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. Primary sources available at the Library of Congress provide detailed information about how this first Pride march was planned, and the reasons why activists felt so strongly that it should exist. Looking through the Lilli Vincenz and Frank Kameny Papers in the Manuscript Reading Room, researchers can find planning documents, correspondence, flyers, ephemera and more from the very first Pride marches in 1970. This, the very first U.S. Gay Pride Week and March, was meant to give the community a chance to gather together to, "...commemorate the Christopher Street Uprisings of last summer in which thousands of homosexuals went to the streets to demonstrate against centuries of abuse....from government hostility to employment and housing discrimination, Mafia control of Gay bars, and anti-Homosexual laws" (Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee Fliers, Franklin Kameny Papers).

The concept behind the initial Pride march was formally proposed by lesbian activist Ellen Broidy (NYU Student Homophile League), who had written the proposal together with Craig Rodwell (Homophile Youth Movement). E.R.C.H.O. had been organizing an annual July 4th demonstration (1965-1969) known as the "Reminder Day Pickets," at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. At the E.R.C.H.O Conference in November 1969, the 13 homophile organizations in attendance voted to pass a resolution to organize a National annual demonstration, to be called Christopher Street Liberation Day.

As members of the Mattachine Society of Washington, Frank Kameny and Lilli Vincenz participated in the discussion, planning, and promotion of the first Pride along with activists in New York City and other homophile groups belonging to E.R.C.H.O. John Marshall is listed as a representative for the Mattachine Society of Washington in the Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee Files, so researchers may wish to search that name specifically in the Kamney and Vincenz collections. For a comprehensive list of which homophile groups contributed financially to the first Pride, researchers can reference the Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee Bulletin and Reports External. The organization with the largest donation to Christopher Street Liberation Day 1970 was the Queens Liberation Front, donating $50 (CSLDC Bulletin and Reports External, Cash Receipts Journal).

By all estimates, there were upwards of 3-5,000 marchers at the inaugural Pride in New York City, and today NYC marchers number in the millions. Since 1970, LGBTQ+ people have continued to gather together in June to march with Pride and demonstrate for equal rights.

Watch documentary footage of the first Pride march held in New York City on June 28, 1970, Gay and Proud, a documentary by activist Lilli Vincenz: