In the early hours of June 28, 1969, police officers raided the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street. Unlike typical raids of gay establishments at the time, this one did not come with an advance warning and those being rounded up by the cops did not wait quietly or peacefully. Instead, a riot broke out as patrons of the bar and bystanders who gathered to see what the commotion was about began to rebel, attacking police officers, throwing bricks through windows, and letting the authorities know that they were no longer willing to participate in their own persecution.
That night launched many things, among them the Stonewall Inn’s reputation as the birthplace of the gay rights movement. But most importantly, June 28 offered the feeling that there was an LGBTQ+ community, one that could band together to fight back against injustice. Now, 50 years later, that community has only grown stronger as the country makes great strides towards equality while also suffering devastating setbacks. But every step forward that we take stems from that first night in 1969, when a group of people bravely risked imprisonment and public humiliation in the newspapers to resist.
That’s why this year the Pride banner on the cover of the Playbill in your hand is a departure from previous years. To commemorate 50 years of gay rights and the courageousness of those at Stonewall in 1969, we’re paying homage to those first bricks thrown in the fight for equality, ones that continue to echo throughout the country now, even as the fight wages on in different ways.