US president Barack Obama on Friday (June 24) designated the Stonewall Inn, an underground gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village , a national monument, making it the country’s first ever such monument honouring LGBT rights.
The timing could not be better. Sunday marks one year since the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. The decision also comes in the midst of New York’s Gay Pride month; the city will hold its annual pride parade this weekend.
Obama’s announcement also comes less than two weeks after the deadliest mass shooting in US history, in which a gunman killed 49 people at a gay club in Orlando.
The Stonewall Inn in its current form opened in 1967, and is widely considered the birthplace of the modern US gay rights movement. In the early hours of June 28, 1969, a group of undercover police officers entered the bar; its patrons fought back and as word spread about the tussle, a crowd formed outside outside the bar. At the time, police raids targeting LGBT individual were commonplace, and the riot sparked other demonstrations for gay rights not just in the city, but also throughout the country.
As recently as last week, the Stonewall served as a memorial space for hundreds of people attending a vigil for the Orlando victims.
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