Stonewall Inn fight for Gay rights

On June 27, 1969, eight New York city police officers raided the stonewall inn, which was a gay bar on Christopher street in Greenwich village. The police officers raided the bar because they had a warrant for distributing liquor without a liquor license. Once they were all asked to leave, all the Latino, Black, and White drag queens began to throw bricks and bottles all the streets and the bar. More than 500 people started to gather around outside and for the next few days hundreds of gays and lesbians had arrived to protest and riot.  In wake of these riots the Gay Liberation Front was formed and was “the most ambitious and radical gay rights group to date” (5). The GLF considered themselves “to be to gay liberation what the Black Panthers were to black liberation, and also took inspiration from antiwar protestors” (5). The group handed out flyers that stated “Homosexual men and women have served willingly in every one of the America’s wars… we fought and bled and we died beside our straight brothers and sisters. Yet we are denied our birthright and are branded criminals for claiming the right to the self-determination of our own bodies”. Image result for stonewall inn riotsThese fliers were describing the frustration that the gay community was facing. Many groups handed out fliers during this time and a few of them were, “Get the mafia and the cops out of gay bars”, “Homosexuals are placing themselves in the revolutionary movement”, and “Homosexuals are finally coming together”. In 1970 Leo Skir said “This time our time had come” he said it was “like the black women who wouldn’t give up her bus seat… we’re not going back to the closet, the back-of-the-bus”.

A French philosopher named Emmanuel Levinas believed that the citizens of the world circumscribe people into their own categories and are intolerant of people with different religions, races, genders, and sexual orientation. Levinas states that people are “stuck” in their own way of seeing the world because of how others affect and change one another. He also argues that who people are “is the result of our having responded to others our whole lives” and that it is “like aging”. Levinas theory to get out of this “stuck” place, is to undergo affection by someone. Emmanuel Levinas theory of Recurrence says that your “freedom” and their “freedom” are dependent upon a series of past relations between both of your bodies as they exist in proximity to one another. Levinas ideas tie into the idea that we are who we are because of our experiences with others and how they affect us. If Emmanuel Levinas were to read about the Stonewall Documents and how the discrimination against gays and lesbians at the time were leading to riots and protests like the one described, he would believe that people are acting this way because it is what they have been told to do. Levinas theory of people are who they are because of their experiences with one another is supported by these documents because many people growing up are told that being gay is wrong and should be illegal. The only way out of this hatred in Levinas eyes is to have affection with someone that will change who you are.

Events like the Stonewall inn riots and documents have led the way for gay rights and was the first step for gays in fighting for their rights. This is still an issue today and gay rights are progressing but there are still people who don’t support it and believe it should be illegal.


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