Stonewall Inn likely to become first national monument to LGBT rights
The 1969 riots at the Stonewall Inn launched the modern gay rights movement and the annual New York City pride parade.
Now the Greenwich Village bar where many in New York gather to protest and celebrate civil rights victories is poised to become the first-ever national monument to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
President Barack Obama is likely to approve the monument by June, which is LGBT Pride Month, administration officials told CNN.
The Stonewall Inn and surrounding areas would become a National Park Service monument, although which part of the neighborhood would be included is yet to be determined.
In the early morning of June 28, 1969, a police raid on the Stonewall Inn–a typical occurrence at gay bars in the 1960s–turned violent when patrons fought back.
Following several arrests that morning, people continued to protest outside the bar for weeks afterward, leading to the first march for gay and lesbian rights in July.
Those protests are often credited as a flashpoint for LGBT rights in the United States.
Local community members will get to comment on the proposal at a Monday night listening session, with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis and New York state and city officials in attendance.
The Monday night meeting is expected to launch the process of transferring the land to the federal government.
The world changed during the Stonewall riots, said retired New York City planner Michael Levine, who said he was on a date that night at the Stonewall Inn.
“It’s not what happened inside,” said Levine, 73. “Not only did gay people stand up for their rights, they stood up for them in the streets.”
After Stonewall, “it was easier for me to come out because the world around me changed,” Levine said.
The National Park Service, which turns 100 this year, has expanded its efforts to include sites that tell the story of the LGBT community and other diverse U.S. communities, park service director Jonathan Jarvis told CNN last month.
The new effort includes a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Heritage Initiative, launched in 2014, to identify places and events associated with the story of LGBTQ Americans for inclusion in the park service.
Nearly two years ago, the National Parks Conservation Association launched a national effort to identify potential sites for an LGBT monument, said Cortney Worrall, the association’s senior northeast regional director. Its online petition has more than 13,000 signatures.
“Clearly, it was Stonewall,” said Worrall.
Through NPCA’s discussions with locals, “we heard a resounding ‘yes. Please take this on, It’s long overdue,'” Worrall said.
“This is something we think we can make happen in New York.”
If Obama names Stonewall as the first LGBT monument, the park service will go through a three-year process working with the local community to determine what the park will be and how it can serve the community, Worrall said.
The Stonewall Inn was granted historic landmark status by New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission in June 2015.