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News > World

Stonewall Inn Will be First National Monument to LGBT Rights

  • A pedestrian walks past a memorial to the victims of the Orlando shooting outside the Stonewall Inn in New York.

    A pedestrian walks past a memorial to the victims of the Orlando shooting outside the Stonewall Inn in New York. | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 June 2016

The site of the most significant part of U.S. LGBTQ history will now be a part of the National Park system.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced Friday that the Stonewall National Monument will be created outside the Stonewall Inn in New York, where queer and trans people, mostly people of color, were assaulted by a police raid in 1969.

“The riots became protests, the protests became a movement, the movement ultimately became an integral part of America,” Obama said in a voiceover to a video released on Friday, that also includes the the voices of many activists, as The Guardian reported.

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Declaring Stonewall as the newest addition to the National Park system,  Obama also said the small public garden opposite the bar, Christopher Park, would also be a part of the new national monument. The park, surrounding streets and the bar itself, have been preserved as a National Historic Landmark since 2000.

Obama described the park as “a place for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community to assemble for marches and parades, expressions of grief and anger, and celebrations of victory and joy”, as published by The Guardian.

Watch the White House's recently released video, "Announcing the Stonewall National Monument":

“It played a key role in the events often referred to as the Stonewall Uprising or Rebellion,” he added.

On June 28 1969, gay bar-goers at Stonewall fought back an aggressive raid by the police. That same week, a spontaneous protest march began outside the bar and travelled all the way to Central Park and  the modern pride parade was born.

A statement from the White House also released Friday heralded Obama as a key advocate for gay rights, reminding the public of when he mentioned Stonewall during his inaugural address in 2013.

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However, Obama was ambivalent about the issue of same-sex marriage for years before supporting it publicly in 2012. And while many regard his push for the for the end of the ban on gay people serving in the military as progress, many queer activists have pointed out there is nothing progressive about being able to serve empire’s imperialist interests.

Still, while this year’s parades are overshadowed by the tragedy in Orlando, the news of the Stonewall National Monument is a break of positivity.

“It’s fabulous. There will be thousands outside the bar celebrating later. I’ll wear my sash that says ‘Stonewall veteran’. Pride is going to be absolutely huge this year. I’m so proud. Orlando was disgusting, but I love the fact that our president is so gay-friendly,” Fredd E Tree, widely known as Tree,  a bartender at the Stonewall Inn on the night of the police raid said in the Guardian.

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