Eric Marcus, founder and host of “making Gay History,” explained how LGBTQ+ people stood up to police abuse and made history at Stonewall in 1969.
“During this particular period in the late ‘60s there was a lot of pressure on gay people,” he explained. “You could not be out at your job. Landlords didn’t want to rent to homosexuals. And we were considered sick. The American Psychiatric Association listed homosexuality as a mental illness. And there was a lot of pressure on the gay bars, lots of them raided and shut down by the police.”
One night when police raided the Stonewall Inn, the patrons fought back. The Stonewall Inn is an LGBTQ+ bar in New York’s Greenwich Village. Police had raided the bar the night before, and the owners said that they would be open the next night. When they came back, the patrons weren’t willing to back down.
“There were fully, armored police—masks, shields, batons. And I think of those brave kids out there that night and I so admire them and honor them for what they did and their courage, Marcus said. “And instead of the police chasing gay people, gay people were chasing the police.”
Marcus; advice to future LGBTQ+ historians is to learn about its expansive history from the people who helped create it.
“There are thousands and thousands of people out there now who are in their 60s, 70s, and 80s who are eager to tell their stories, to share their stories, particularly with young people,” he said. “So go out there and record those stories.”