The response was not immediate, and continues yet today. Many people in that community could not take their fights seriously.
“It is tempting to tell the history of the gay rights movement as a history of laughter–alternately anxious or derisive, mirthful or sardonic–as who is laughing, and with what emotion, has changed very much, very quickly.” (Yoshino, 1, 2002) Many believed that homosexuality was a psychiatric mental disorder, and although this notion has lost its credibility, it still continues today. The Stonewall Riots gave the individuals the strength to fight back against what was occurring. “When the police raided the Stonewall Inn, gay patrons of the bar refused to go quietly. Barricading themselves in the bar, they alternately hurled out beer bottles and slogans like “Gay Power.” The riots did not last the week, and the mainstream press accorded them no great significance. Yet the riots imaginatively inaugurated the gay fights movement.” (Yoshino, 1, 2002)The Stonewall Riots paved the way for organizations to form, propelling the rights of homosexuals, where no one had dared to tread before.
The Stonewall Riots “paved the way for other anti-passing events by making themselves visible in unprecedented ways. The riots called forth a new set of gay activist organizations, including the Gay Liberation Front, Radical Lesbians, and the Third World Gay Revolution.” (Yoshino, 1, 2002) No longer would these groups deny their sexual orientation, but proclaim it proudly. They “conducted sit-ins in the offices of newspapers and magazines that purveyed demeaning images of homosexuals; they marched in the street to protest police harassment; they disrupted the conventions of psychiatrists who proclaimed them to be sick; they occupied campus buildings to win concessions from university administrators.” (Yoshino, 1, 2002)The Stonewall Inn was a unique establishment that welcomed those who were not welcomed elsewhere.
“When it was raided, they fought for it. They had nothing to lose other than the most tolerant and open-minded gay place in town.” (Cusac, 1, 1999) The Stonewall Inncreated an atmosphere where everyone felt comfortable to be who they were and take pride in who they were. “On June 28, the drag queens and junkies and hustlers—Stonewall catered to a poor, underworld gay male community–fought back. The riot spilled out onto the street and continued intermittently for five days.
That show of resolve gave birth to the Gay Liberation Front, led to the annual gay pride parade in New York (today the city’s largest annual parade), and is widely credited with emboldening a generation of activists.” (Oppenheimer, 86, 1996)The Stonewall Riots demonstrate that sexual orientation has the ability to mark both personal identity and social divisions. “Sexual orientation has steadily been replacing religion as the identity characteristic that is both physically invisible and morally polarizing. In 1900, one’s group identity was largely defined by one’s ethnicity, social class, sex, and religion. The norm was Anglo-Saxon, middle-class, male, and Protestant. The Jew, Roman Catholic, or Jehovah’s Witness was considered deviant and was subject to social, economic, and political discrimination. In 2000, one’s group identity will be largely defined by one’s race, income, sex, and sexual orientation. The norm will be white, middle-income, male, and heterosexual.
The lesbian, gay man, or trans-gendered person will be considered deviant and will be subject to social, economic, and political discrimination.” (Eskridge, 1, 1997)The Stonewall Riots provided the opportunity for homosexuals to come out of the closet and be proud for doing so. “The Stonewall generation not only definitively associated coming out with the destruction of the closet, but also deepened and transformed the meaning of the particular phenomenon. Coming out as lesbian, gay, or bisexual now is viewed as telling outsiders, not just insiders, about one’s sexual identity.
It no longer is understood merely as a discrete personal discovery and expression of one’s sexuality, but is now seen as a process of continual discovery and exploration made possible through liberation from the clichés of compulsory heterosexuality.” (Eskridge, 1, 1997)