#Stonewall50 – 50 Years Since Stonewall
Today marks the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, as featured in our exhibition about LGBTQ+ activism and peacemaking – Peace OUT. Sam Message is an artist and activist studying Arts Management & Heritage Studies at the University of Leeds, and volunteered to help curate our Peace OUT exhibition.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the day that fight for LGBTQ+ rights up a gear. The first pride marches were staged both in memorial to Stonewall and in defiance to the continued oppression of LGBTQ+ people. While both Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, two trans women of colour, are often credited with igniting the riots, both have been recorded on tape disputing these claims. What we do know, however, is that they certainly took part that night and that they were instrumental in the fight for LGBTQ+, and particularly trans, rights. Despite their bravery and their commitment to the Gay Liberation movement that followed the stonewall riots, the voices of Johnson and Rivera and many others like them were sidelined in the bid for rights and acceptance. As women of colour and as trans women they did not fit into the Gay Liberation movement’s assertions that gay people were just like everybody else – i.e. white, cis-gendered and middle class. Subsequent Queer movements pushed back against these demands for assimilation and have included the diverse and intersectional voices of the LGBTQ+ communities.
When we remember Stonewall, let’s remember that it was those who could not or would not meet society’s demands to be “normal” that fought the right for LGBTQ+ people to live in peace.