President Obama officially declared the Stonewall Inn, long recognized as the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement, a national monument this morning, making it the first monument to the struggle for LGBTQ equality.
The Stonewall became the center of a new movement for gay rights in June of 1969, when patrons at the well-known gay bar fought back against one of the NYPD’s periodic raids. The ensuing riots and their aftermath inspired many to act and organize in support of LGBTQ rights, creating the first movement of its kind in America. The Stonewall Inn became a national landmark in 2000 and a city landmark almost exactly a year ago.
Most recently, the Stonewall also served as a place of mourning for the LGBTQ community and their allies in the wake of a mass shooting at the gay night club Pulse in Orlando, during which 49 people were killed. In the aftermath of that tragedy, hundreds of New Yorkers gathered in the streets in front of the bar to show solidarity and remember those killed in tragedy.
Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who represents the Stonewall Inn’s district and has pushed for monument status for years, said the designation is a great symbol for a struggle that is still being waged. “We are faced with painful reminders daily of how much further we must go to achieve true equality and tolerance for the LGBT community, but honoring and preserving the stories of all of the diverse participants in Stonewall in our National Park System is a clear symbol of how far we have come,” Nadler said in a statement.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who spoke at the #WeAreOrlando vigil and approved the transfer of Christopher Park, said in a statement, “When the City of New York gave this historic NYC real estate to the federal government months ago, we couldn’t have known how critical this moment would be. Today, the designation of Stonewall Inn serves as both recognition of the bravery of the activists who fought for their right to love, but also as a national embrace of the LGBTQ community after the devastating attack in Orlando.”
The Stonewall National Monument is just under eight acres in total and includes the building at 51-53 Christopher Street, nearby Christopher Park and the streets and sidewalks around the Inn where many of the 1969 protests took place.