Credit: The White House / YouTube
It all started with a trans Latina.
The Stonewall Inn has officially been designated as the first national monument dedicated to the history of LGBTQ Americans. What began as yet another police raid on a queer safe space turned into a three-day protest sparking the gay rights movement. And who led the protests? Sylvia Rivera, a trans woman of Puerto Rican and Venezuelan heritage. Rivera began dressing in drag in 1961 and lived on the streets. It was at The Stonewall Inn that she and so many other LGBTQ Americans in New York in the 1960s sought refuge.
Bar patrons fought back against the police offiers who threatened to raid the bar and arrest everyone present. When Rivera saw the commotion, she knew this was the time for a revolution. In her own words, she threw the second molotov cocktail that lit the fire, literally and figuratively, of the gay rights movement nationwide
“I’m not missing a a minute of this,” Rivera told her lover that night, according to “The New York Times.” “It’s a revolution.”
History and a recent movie have tried whitewashing the contributions of LGBTQ people of color made at the start of the gay rights movement. In fact, there were calls for a boycott of “Stonewall,” the movie that claimed to be a portrayal of the Stonewall riots, but erased key black and Latino trans activists who started the fight. Today, all the people involved, including Sylvia Rivera, are remembered as starting the movement almost 50 years ago that continues today. That’s LGBTQ history. That’s our history.
Happy Pride Month, y’all!