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The colors of the rainbow: New York celebrates 50 years of "Stonewall"


TIME ONLINE | News, backgrounds and debates

New York (dpa) - Whether department stores, ice cream parlors or subway tickets: New York is currently largely wrapped in rainbow colors.

With around four million expected visitors celebrates the million capital "World Pride", also with a grand parade on June 30, to raise awareness of the rights and issues, among others, homosexual, bisexual and transsexuals.

Countless shops and houses have been decorated with rainbow colors for weeks. There are special exhibitions and events at the Goethe-Institut, New York Historical Society and many other cultural institutions. The gay street in the trendy district of Greenwich Village has even been renamed "Acceptance Street" at times.

Half a century ago, that would have been inconceivable in the metropolis. On a warm night on June 28, exactly 50 years ago, about 200 people, including many homosexuals, are celebrating at the popular Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, when eight policemen come in at once. A raid, like so many before. The sale of alcohol to gays is illegal at the time, they are not allowed to dance, and women are allowed to wear trousers only if they also wear at least three "feminine garments". The policemen abduct a lesbian woman and torture her in the scuffle with a baton. Such harassment has happened more often - but this time the crowd of revelers has had enough.

Years of violence, oppression and exclusion are erupting in open protest and resistance, later known as the Stonewall Uprising. "We had nothing, so we had nothing to lose," recalls Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt, who was there at the time. Bottles and stones fly to the policemen, who soon see themselves besieged by 600 people and barricade themselves for their own protection in the newly cleared pub. Trash cans fly, windowpanes burst, demonstrators call "Gay Power". The riots do not tear off, nor nights later, around 1,000 protesters gather. The riots are the spark that sets an international movement in motion - and the "Stonewall Inn" becomes the nucleus of the protest movement.

Already on the first anniversary of the riots, about 4,000 homosexuals are moving through New York calling for equal rights. Today, the annual Christopher Street Day (CSD) commemorates the incidents worldwide. It stands for the self-confidence of the LGBTQ community (English abbreviation for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals and queer) and their resistance to discrimination. Also in Germany, the CSD is celebrated on various dates with parades, street parties and demonstrations. In Cologne, the CSD parade moves through the city on July 7, and on July 27 in Berlin.

The "Stonewall Inn" declared by the then US President Barack Obama as a national monument in 2016, which is now missing in every travel guide, still opens its door every day at 2 pm on the same spot on Christopher Street. "The place where homosexual pride began on a sultry summer's night in 1969, and the place where he lives today," celebrates the wood-paneled bar. There are dance parties with DJs and a special "Stonewall Inn" beer with a rainbow-colored label. In the window and on the walls are old articles about the riots. Numerous tourists take pictures daily in front of the bar and the small park decorated with rainbow flags. Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden also stopped by.

For the 50th anniversary of the uprising, even New York Police Chief James O'Neill has recently apologized on behalf of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for the behavior of the police. "The actions of the NYPD were wrong - very simple," said O'Neill at a press conference. "The behavior and the laws were discriminatory and oppressive and I apologize for that." Today, many New York policemen identified as LGBTQ. Something like the Stonewall riots could not happen anymore, he said.

The apology of the NYPD leader is a "strong first step," said Stacy Lentz, since 2006 co-owner of the "Stonewall Inn", the "New York Times". But she also stressed that there is still a lot to do in terms of the rights of people identifying as LGBTQ - in New York and around the world. "The fight that has been started here is not over yet."

About World Pride

Report of the NYT

Website of the Stonewall Inn

CSD Cologne

CSD Berlin

Source: zeit

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