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7 Facts About the Stonewall Riots and the Fight for LGBT Rights

June 28, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

The struggle for LGBT rights dates at least as far back as 1924 and accelerated in the wake of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising.

The movement for LGBT rights in the United States dates at least as far back as the 1920s, when the first documented gay rights organization was founded. Since then, various groups have advocated for LGBT rights and the movement accelerated in the wake of the Stonewall Riots of 1969. Below is a list of surprising facts about Stonewall and the struggles and milestones of the gay rights movement.

1. The first documented U.S. gay rights organization was founded in Chicago in 1924.

Henry Gerber, a German immigrant, founded the Society for Human Rights, the first documented gay rights organization in the United States. During his U.S. Army service in

3. Three years before Stonewall, a protest for gay rights started in another New York City bar.

After pouring their drinks, a bartender in Julius’s Bar refuses to serve John Timmins, Dick Leitsch, Craig Rodwell, and Randy Wicker, members of the Mattachine Society who were protesting New York liquor laws that prevented serving gay customers, 1966.

In 1966, three members of the Mattachine Society, an early organization dedicated to fighting for gay rights, staged a “sip-in”—a twist on the “sit-in” protests of the 1960s. The trio visited taverns, declared themselves gay, and waited to be turned away so they could sue.

Although the State Liquor Authority initially denied the men’s discrimination claim, the Commission on Human Rights argued that gay individuals had the right to be served in bars. For the next few years in New York, the gay community felt empowered. Police raids became less commonplace and gay bar patrons, while still oppressed in society, had recovered their safe havens.

READ MORE: The Gay Sip-In That Drew From the Civil Rights Movement

4. The Mafia ran gay bars in NYC in the 1960s.

An NYPD officer grabs someone by their hair as another officer clubs a young man during a confrontation in Greenwich Village, New York City in 1970.

It was an unlikely partnership. But between New York’s LGBT community in the 1960s being forced to live on the outskirts of society and the Mafia’s disregard for the law, the two became a profitable, if uneasy, match.

The State Liquor Authority and the New York Police Department regularly raided bars that catered to gay patrons. Where the law …read more


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