The legacy of the Stonewall riots


The Stonewall timeline and exhibit included some photos from the Stonewall riots in 1969 Photo credit: Danielle Kessler

A new exhibit at Chico State celebrates the importance of the Stonewall riots to the LGBTQ+ rights movement. Accompanying the Gender and Sexuality Equity Coalition’s Queer Week, this exhibit showcases a timeline of the movement and its evolution.

The timeline begins in 1924 when the first gay rights organization, the Society for Human Rights, was founded in Chicago.

The 1950s section follows, focusing on the creation of other gay organizations such as the Mattachine society, and the first lesbian rights organization the Daughters of Bilitis. This decade also introduced the American Psychiatric Association’s decision to categorize homosexuality as a “sociopathic personality” which created more negative bias against the LGBT community.

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The Stonewall Inn is the site where the Stonewall riots happened in 1969. Photo credit: Danielle Kessler

One of the most poignant eras in the timeline is the 1960s, which is when the Stonewall riots and the start of the gay revolution occurred. As the main focus of the art exhibit, the importance of Stonewall the emphasis. Photos of the Stonewall Inn as well as photos of people protesting during the riots are at the center of the piece.

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Quoted testimonials from LGBT+ activists Photo credit: Danielle Kessler

The ’70s heralded the first Pride March as part of recognition for the Stonewall riots. This decade also brought backlash against the community such as when Christian singer Anita Bryant wrote an anti-gay song called “Save Our Children” in 1977 which further stigmatized the gay community following Stonewall.

More progress in the ’70s included the removing homosexuality as a mental illness and the election of Harvey Milk to San Francisco’s board of supervisors.

The ’80s featured the AIDS epidemic. Because of the severe misunderstanding of the nature of the virus and the negative associations with it, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power was formed to push back and educate the public.

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Photos of LGBT+ activists during protest were showcased. Photo credit: Danielle Kessler

The exhibit then explored the ’90s as an era of legislation against the queer community. A 1996 law signed by President Clinton declared marriage as heterosexual and ruled that states didn’t have to recognize same-sex marriage as valid in the eyes of the law.

The LGBT movement of the 2000s focused on progress. Same-sex marriage gradually became legal. The election of Barack Obama also introduced new rights for members of the LGBT community by passing laws like the Matthew Shepard Act, which labeled discrimination of one’s sexual orientation, preference and gender identity as a hate crime.

In the latest wave of the LGBT rights movement, even more progress has been made. The greatest accomplishment was the legalization of same-sex marriage across the entire country in June of 2015.

The Stonewall Exhibit is open until Oct. 18 and is located on the second floor of the Arts and Humanities building.

Danielle Kessler can be reached at [email protected] or @reserv0irpups on Twitter.