Flip Side of the Stonewall Raid

ACT UP New York, The First Gay Pride Was a Riot, ca. 1991

With the recent death of Seymour Pine, the police officer who led the 1969 raid on the Stonewall Inn, it seems appropriate to reflect on one of the most influential moments in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual (LGBT) community’s history.  Pine’s obituary discusses his reflections on his controversial role in the historic raid. The article also describes the discrimination that the LGBT community faced during the 1960s:

In 2004, Inspector Pine spoke during a discussion of the Stonewall uprising at the New-York Historical Society. At the time of the raid, he said, the police “certainly were prejudiced” against gays, “but had no idea about what gay people were about.”

The department regularly raided gay clubs for two reasons, he said. First, he insisted, many clubs were controlled by organized crime; second, arresting gay people was a way for officers to improve their arrest numbers. “They were easy arrests,” he said. “They never gave you any trouble”—at least until that night.

The ACT UP New York sticker, The First Gay Pride Was a Riot, is a poignant reminder of the stifling atmosphere that existed prior to the Stonewall uprising, as well as the sacrifices made during the LGBT civil rights movement to foster change, progress, and acceptance.

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