Days Before NYC Pride, Stonewall Inn Becomes the First National LGBTQ Monument

The White House announced Friday that the historic Stonewall Inn will be a national monument, along with the surrounding New York City area where the 1969 riots took place. This is a pretty big deal, considering it’s the first national dedication to LGBTQ rights. “Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights. I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country—the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us,” President Obama said in a video announcement. “That we are stronger together. That out of many, we are one.”

Officially titled Stonewall National Monument, it will encompass 7.7 acres of land in Greenwich Village, including Christopher Park, and will be managed by the National Park Service. The announcement came just two days before New York City’s annual Pride Parade that goes right by the bar newly protected by the federal government. Now, parade-goers donning very little clothing, extravagant make-up, and rainbow flags will have one more thing to celebrate—the country finally recognizing the history of the gay rights movement and the worth of LGBTQ people in America.

Sure, most states can still legally discriminate against LGBTQ people when it comes to employment, housing, parenthood, and health care, but this is a tiny show of recognition from the Obama administration.

The 1969 Stonewall riots started when the police raided the bar serving as a haven for LGBTQ folks in accordance with a New York City law that banned selling booze to gay people. The event is considered the start of America’s LGBTQ rights movement. “Raids like these were nothing new, but this time the patrons had had enough,” Obama said in the video. “So they stood up and spoke out. The riots became protests. The protests became a movement. The movement ultimately became an integral part of America.”

The Stonewall Inn has been memorialized in people’s minds since then, with the bar still up and running, but now it will officially be protected and preserved. More than just the bar itself though, this ensures that the riots and LGBTQ movement as a whole (which is still ongoing) aren’t forgotten or ignored. America still has a lot of progress to make in terms of LGBTQ rights—I mean, North Carolina’s currently in a legal feud with the federal government over which bathrooms transgender people are or aren’t allowed to use—but declaring Stonewall a national monument during Pride Month offers some hope that things are moving in the right direction.

Get your rainbow tube socks ready, New York City Pride is going to be lit this year.

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