Exhibits, panels, opera for Stonewall's 50th anniversary | Inquirer News

Exhibits, panels, opera, more for Stonewall’s 50th anniversary

/ 05:46 PM June 03, 2019


Revelers carry a Rainbow Flag along Fifth Avenue during the New York City Pride Parade in New York. Jun. 28, 2019, marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising which fueled the fire for a global LGBTQ movement. Image: AP/Andres Kudacki

NEW YORK — If it is Pride Month, there has to be a parade. And there will be, in New York City and places around the country and world.

But this year, the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising that fueled the fire for a global LGBTQ movement, there is also a lot more. From symposiums to movie screenings, walking tours to art exhibits and even an opera, a slew of institutions and organizations are filling June with events that commemorate that moment and its impact through the past five decades, while also using it as inspiration for the current generation of activists to keep pushing for civil rights.

Stonewall 50th anniversary parade

Long strings of colorful balloons are moved to the front during New York’s annual Gay Pride Parade. Image: AP/Seth Wenig

The uproar at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s West Village, began on Jun. 28, 1969, when bar patrons and area residents, tired of harassment that was still allowed by law, clashed with police officers who had come to raid the nightspot. Demonstrations continued for the next several nights.


Those events were not the first resistance act of the gay rights movement but it galvanized activism in the United States and around the world.

Stonewall 25th anniversary

In this Jun. 26, 1994, photo, marchers carrying a mile-long rainbow banner up First Avenue past the United Nations in New York City during the Stonewall 25 parade, marking the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. Image: AP/Eric Miller

Stonewall’s history is the highlight of events among a wide range of institutions that will be hosted this month such as an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum called “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall” to an opera by British composer Iain Bell commissioned by the New York City Opera called “Stonewall”, which is getting its world premiere towards the end of June.

Stonewall at NY

The bar was the site of the Stonewall uprising that started on Jun. 28, 1969 and galvanized the Gay Rights Movement. Image: AP/Richard Drew

There are walking tours such as the New York City LGBT Historic Sites Project that will take participants around Greenwich Village and talk about the anti-gay climate that led to the Stonewall protests and a panel discussion at a New York Public Library branch from transgender speakers talking about Stonewall and current trans life.

“In the best possible world we would use these anniversaries, and I think it is happening this time as a jumping-off point to look deeper,” said Eric Marcus, founder of the Stonewall 50 Consortium, an organization that brought together cultural institutions and others primarily in New York City that have created programming connected to Stonewall.


Drag queens wave from a float that honored the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising during New York’s annual Gay Pride Parade in 2009. Image: AP/Seth Wenig

It is not just New York City, as Pride festivals and parades are taking place around United States and the world with references to the Stonewall anniversary is everywhere.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, one of its events will include a ball celebrating those who resisted at Stonewall. At the Library of Congress in Washington, a display called “Stonewall at 50: LGBTQ+ Activism in the United States” used flyers and other historical items to showcase protest history.


But for New York City, the anniversary has become the opportunity to take its already high-profile Pride celebrations even higher. Heritage of Pride, the organization that plans the city’s parade and other events, has included a commemorative rally in its slate of events for the month and is hosting WorldPride as well, the first time the international event has been held in the United States in its two-decade existence.

Pride march at NY

Marchers make their way down New York’s Fifth Avenue in the International Dyke March. Image: AP/Eric Miller

The confluence of all Pride organizers and city tourism officials hope that the throngs of visitors who come to take part in the various Pride activities over a period of about six weeks could double.

Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company, the city’s marketing organization, said the city’s cultural institutions responded to the anniversary.

“We are proud of how many came forward and put together great programming,” Dixon said.


People pass the Stonewall Inn, in New York City’s West Village. Image: AP/Mark Lennihan

The spirit of protest that Stonewall represents is also represented at the Queer Liberation March which is planned by the Reclaim Pride Coalition. The coalition’s march is planned for the same day as the main heritage of Pride march on Jun. 30.

“There are members of our community who have always struggled, who have always been left behind,” said Natalie James, co-founder of Reclaim Pride. “What I think we want to go back to is the radicalism and solidarity of the early days of the activists in this movement.” HM/JB


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TAGS: LGBTQ, New York City, Pride March, Pride month, Stonewall

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